House Call in Old Havana

doctor-visit-7848-copy

© JoAnne Kalish

To all the ships at sea,

I know you’re going to find this hard to believe but Murphy even travels to Cuba! As a matter of fact, Murphy has a pretty much free reign in Cuba -one little slip on a cobblestone pothole and I went down like a ton of bricks. No big deal, I know how to fall… well, I did something to my back. When I went back to our pencion (B&B), our host family turned me on to some local doctors and, believe it or not, they made a house call. Not one, but two- a doctor and a technician. They came in with a tens unit, the typical doctor’s bag, and went through a whole protocol on trying to piece me back together again. Yes, there was ice then there was heat then a fabulous massage. We ran that tens unit on 220, it was really great. The interesting part about it was that the doctor was President Obama! Now I know you may find that hard to believe, the president of the U.S. stopped by my room to make sure I was okay. They pieced me up so I could finish my shoot in Old Havana but more importantly, it was just the way that they went out of their way to make sure that I was okay. Not to be outdone, on return to Miami and then to Boca Raton, I had a fabulous doctor in the ER at Boca West at 11 o’clock in the evening. A five hour wait was cut down to 20 minutes, then they gave me an epidural and prescription medicine for my back with a recommendation for acupuncture and a massage. I had the greatest massage I had ever had from a Taiwanese master masseuse and then the acupuncture was unbelievable. Everybody came together to piece Humpty Dumpy back together again… oops that’s not my name! It’s Dumpty Humpy….no, I think its Joe DiMaggio. It’s surprising what service you can get with a white beard, man when these people find out I’m 28 years old they’ll be angry! Medicine from Cuba, to Miami, to Boca, to New York- it’s all good. It’s actually all great!

Kid Chocolate Alias Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

In all my previous trips to Cuba, we never put boxing on our people-to-people trips or our humanitarian trips. On this VIP trip (Joe and JoAnne) Havana was seen up close and personal. I asked where the boxing gym was and they all said Kid Chocolate. Not wanting to be argumentative, I said, “Si!” Of course I know Kid Chocolate as Peter Quillin, a middle weight from Chicago. Well, there was another Kid Chocolate and that Kid Chocolate had a total of 152 fights and 136 wins. Kid Chocolate is now the name of the boxing gym in Old Havana. Of course, not doing my research properly, I showed up at the gym on a Sunday. I go to Gleason’s on Sundays all the time… well Kid Chocolate is not open on Sundays, so two security people who spoke a little English said to come back mañana. Sure enough we returned mañana and the security people, recognizing us from the day before, took us through the back door. I have to tell you, this was the smallest, darkest, and most cramped boxing gym I’ve ever been in- and I’ve been in a lot of gyms, some in bars and even in private homes. They didn’t have a ring! I spoke to the manager of the gym. We talked a little bit and I gifted him a few of my boxing photographs. We also met all of the boxers that were going to work out that day (all boxing in Cuba is amateur and amateur only- it wasn’t that way in the 20s, 30s and 40s, but it is that way now). My initial reaction was, ”Wow, this venue is impossible to make a good photograph in.” As one of my old friends would say, it was “o’dark 30.” JoAnne stuck her head in and said she’d sit outside. Well, we walked two miles to the gym and I wasn’t ready to walk two miles back so I said, “Let’s make a few frames.” I switched to black and white, went to jpeg fine and shot everything with a 24mm lens. I looked at a few of the images and they seemed to be acceptable. When I went out to get a breath of fresh air, JoAnne was meditating; I asked her if she would like to come back in and she did. Being the seasoned pro that JoAnne is, she made sure she knew exactly where I was shooting and made sure to stay out of my frame as I made sure to stay out of her frame. The two of us danced around this extremely small, extremely hot, extremely  dark gym and guess what? The photos turned out to be just fine. Fast forward a week later (the first time we got to a computer) and I looked at JoAnne’s work and I have to tell you it was amazingly great.I loved her images, which shouldn’t surprise me. I’d like to share these images with you as well. There’s no doubt we are going to go back. As a matter of fact, I may look for an angel or two to see if we can go back and make a documentary on Cuban boxing. The number one trainer is Carlos Manuel Miranda La O and the associate trainer is Michell.

Please take some time to read this Wikapedia page on the real Kid Chocolate from the 1930s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Chocolate 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish