HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – He came to the United States on a homemade raft; and now, boxer Angelo Santana will be defending his World Boxing Association FEDECARIBE championship at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday.
Angelo Santana was an amatuer boxer in Cuba since the age of 9.
"I always knew I had talent, but I never imagined I would have the opportunities I do now," Santana told CBS4's Natalia Zea in Spanish.
Despite his talents, the Cuban government would not allow him to travel abroad for fights because some of his uncles were defectors. When his childhood sweetheart fled to the United States, Santana knew he had to get out of Cuba.
After four days on a raft, with 26 other refugees, Santana arrived in Marathon in 2007.
"I wasn't afraid. I was very conscious of what I was doing and thank God we arrived safely," said Santana.
Non-profit group Church World Service helped them once they touched land.
"They risk their lives, it really is a risk and it takes a lot of courage to cross our Florida stretches to get here....(Santana) did tell us he was a boxer, and we're just so pleased that he's doing so wonderful," said Church World Service Associate Director Mabel Hernandez.
10 days after his arrival, another dream came true. Don King became his promoter.
King says Santana is more than just a great boxer.
"Angelo represents the spirit of freedom....I think he's going to be a world champion, but more importantly he's a champion of the people," King told Zea.
For Santana, who is a soft-spoken guy from humble beginnings, it's all a lot to take in.
"More than anything I'm happy that I'm fighting. It's what I desire. This is my career, this is my life's work."
Santana is a southpaw and is also known as "La Cobra." For his career, Santana is undefeated (11-0) and has won eight of his fights by knockout.
Santana squares off Saturday against Broderick Antonie who has an 11-11-1 career record with five knockouts.
For more information on the "Viva Don King" Ring Card click here: http://www.hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com/events-detailed.php?mode=full&event_id=264
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