Roberto Balado Méndez (February 15, 1969 – July 2, 1994) was a Cuban amateur boxer, who competed from 1986 to 1994. At the 1992 Summer Olympics he won a Gold medal in the men's super heavyweight (+91 kg).
|Full name||Roberto Balado Mendez|
|Born||February 15, 1969|
Jovellanos, Matanzas Province
|Died||July 2, 1994 (aged 25)|
Havana, Ciudad de la Habana
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||100 kg (220 lb)|
|Weight class||Super Heavyweight|
A natural heavyweight, he was Olympic champion (Barcelona 1992), three times world champion (Moscow 1989, Sydney 1991, and Tampere 1993), and five times Cuban national champion. He was also the winner of the Val Barker Trophy for Outstanding Boxer at the 1992 Olympic Games.
Balado was at his prime, looking forward to win many forthcoming events, considered by some boxing experts to be the world's second-best fighter after Félix Savón (who competed one weight division below), and being one of the favourites of the 1995 Pan American Games and 1996 Olympics, but died in a car accident.
At the time of his death, age 25, he had 250 fights, with a record of 238 victories, and 12 losses.
Balado was born in Jovellanos, Matanzas, on February 15, 1969. Before his first birthday, the family came to live in Old Havana and shortly thereafter they moved to the El Palenque neighborhood (La Lisa), next to the La Lisa bridge.
He was 14 when he took up boxing, and soon participated in the National School Games.
In 1984, Cuba's long-time Olympic heavyweight Teófilo Stevenson, although retaining physical strength and staying in shape, and even aspiring to win the fourth gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games (which Cuba ultimately boycotted,) already needed to pass the torch and find a suitable alternate for the Cuban National Boxing Team.
Raúl Fernández's promotional transfer to the Orbeín Quesada training center, headquarters of the National Athletic Selection, played a decisive role in the formation and subsequent consecration of Balado.
Regarding the Balado's ascent to the national team, Alcides Sagarra pointed out: "Raúl spoke with me of the boy and without any hesitation I agreed to get him trained in the 'Finca.' He began to show progress and very soon his was something more than just learning. He was always willing to help in the sparrings, and he didn't care about the name of the opponent in front of him."
Cuban sport officials questioned the decision to include Balado as the Cuban representative in the superheavyweight class to compete at the 1989 World Championships in Moscow, but he proved the critics wrong and won the event.
Golden Belt Tournament (91 kg), Bucharest, Romania, 1986:
Gee-Bee Tournament (91 kg), Helsinki, Finland, April 1987:
Golden Belt Tournament (91 kg), Bucharest, Romania, 1987:
Simón Bolivar Cup (+81 kg), Caracas, Venezuela, September 1987:
XVIII Central America and the Caribbean Championships (91 kg), San José, Costa Rica, November 1987:
XXII Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Pinar del Río, Cuba, June 1989:
VII Military Spartakiad of the Friendly Armies of the Socialist Countries (+91 kg), Sliven, Bulgaria, June 1989:
AIBA World Championships Challenge (+91 kg), Berlin, Germany, March 1990:
XXIII Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Manzanillo, Cuba, May 1990:
TSC Tournament (+91 kg), Berlin, East Germany, October 1990:
AIBA World Championships Challenge (+91 kg), Bangkok, Thailand, February 1991:
King's Cup (+91 kg), Bangkok, Thailand, April 1991
XXIV Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, June 1991:
BOXAM Cup (+91 kg), Barcelona, Spain, February 1992:
AIBA World Championships Challenge (+91 kg), Tampa, Florida, March 1992:
XXV Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, May 1992:
AIBA World Championships Challenge (+91 kg), Istanbul, Turkey, February 1993:
Europe–North America Duals (+91 kg), Berlin, Germany, March 1993:
XXVI Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, May 1993:
AIBA World Championships Challenge (+91 kg), Dublin, Ireland, March 1994:
XXVII Giraldo Córdova Cardín Tournament (+91 kg), Cienfuegos, Cuba, May 1994:
On July 2, 1994, Roberto Balado was driving to train at the headquarters of the Cuban team at the Holveín Quesada National School of Boxing (Escuela Nacional de Boxeo “Holveín Quesada,”) but didn't make it as he died in a crash at a train crossing in Havana.
- CUBAN AMATEUR BOXING STAR KILLED IN ACCIDENT Deseret News.