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Fidel Castro May Bar Cuban Boxers Competing in World Championships

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has announced he might bar his country's boxers from competing in the upcoming world championships in Chicago and other Olympic qualifying events to prevent possible defections.

In a column that appeared in the Communist Party newspaper Wednesday, Castro described boxing promoters trying to get Cuban fighters to defect as "mafia sharks lurking about in search of fresh meat."

The 80-year-old dictator also said "Cuba will not sacrifice one bit of honor, nor any of its ideas, for Olympic gold medals." Castro added that Cuba is analyzing all possible alternatives to avoid defections, including changing its boxing roster or not sending any delegation at all.

Cuba wins most of its medals at major international events in boxing. Two of Cuba's top fighters defected during the Pan-American Games in Brazil last month. They were later arrested by Brazilian authorities for overstaying their visas and sent back to Cuba.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.