Cuba, U.S. wrestlers tussle in Times Square

Thu May 21, 2015 10:44pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World class wrestlers from Cuba and the United States celebrated the improving relations between the countries on Thursday with an outdoor exhibition amid the hubbub of Times Square.

Billed as "Salsa in the Square," the event opened at rush hour and ended at nightfall with Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs registering the only pin of the showdown, taking down Luis Esteban Quintana Martinez in a bout lit only by the massive electronic screens that dominate the area.

The U.S. team of Olympians and world championship wrestlers won nine of the 13 bouts against their Cuban counterparts, but the event went well beyond bragging rights.

"This is an excellent tournament, an excellent opportunity," Cuban team leader Eduardo Perez told Reuters.

"We appreciate the invitation. This is something that we hope to build on, to come back again and it will make the United States and Cuba strong.

"Hopefully the relationship continues and the relationship keeps getting stronger between the two nations. Right now in Cuba you can't really see the changes. But when the door opens more, you are going to see trade, going to see business."

The wrestling showdown precedes a trip to Havana by the New York Cosmos soccer team for a game against Cuba next month, and the hope of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to arrange some games next year in baseball-mad Cuba.


U.S. wrestler Tervel Dlagnev wrestles Andres Ramos Dinza of Cuba during the "Salsa in the Square" wrestling match in New York's Times Square, May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid