Pittsburgh Boxers Head to Cuba

Feb 22, 2017 by


About 65 Pittsburghers were boarding a charter flight to Havana from Pittsburgh International Airport this morning, with plans including everything from boxing to trade deals.

A group of amateur boxers from Pittsburgh is ready for a Wednesday afternoon rematch in Pinar del Rio of the bouts on the Roberto Clemente Bridge last July, which the Cubans took 7-4.

But the flight also includes state legislators and educators. Rep. Anita Kulik, D-Kennedy, and Rep. Mark Mustio, R-North Fayette, with districts in the airport area, hope to encourage regular flights to Cuba.

“The airport wants new flights going somewhere,’’ Mr. Mustio said, and this is a new somewhere for American business. The appearance of Havana on the departures board —  between Hagerstown and Houston — was a first for the airport.

Jim Ferlo, a former Democratic state senator who has been visiting Cuba for decades, said, “I said in ’94, ‘If you want to influence Cuba, open up a Giant Eagle supermarket.’ ” He still believes business relationships — like those Cuba has with the rest of the world — are key.

“We’ve been closed off from this country for my lifetime,’’ Ms. Kulik said. “I’m not sure why we still are.’’

Rep. Adam Harris, R-Juniata County, and Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, majority and minority chairs of the House Committee on Liquor Control, are also making the trip. One object of their discussions will be an agreement that would send Pennsylvania agriculture to Cuba and Cuban rum back here.

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