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July 19, 1980. Three young boxers are circling a track in front of thousands of people in downtown Moscow. Alberto Mercado, Jose Molina, and Luis Pizarro have found themselves as the sole representatives of Puerto Rico in this year’s controversial Summer Olympic Games. The young men are here in defiance of their own nation’s government and the government of the United States.
The U.S. and 64 other countries are boycotting the Summer Olympics this year. The decision is meant to disavow the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the year before. Puerto Rico is initially expected to boycott too, as an American territory. But they don’t.
Today, why do these three boxers make the controversial choice to go compete behind the Iron Curtain? And is it worth the risk to defy the United States?
Special thanks to Bijan Stephen and the Eclipsed podcast team.
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