Fighting DNA: Ricardo Lamas father fought for and then against Castro
UFC president Dana White often remarks about fighting being in our DNA, and that could not be more evident than in the case of Ricardo Lamas, who fights Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight tile at UFC 169.
“Yeah, the story of my father could really be made into a movie from what he's been though,” said Ricardo, known as Ricky in his family. “In the beginning he was with the revolution and with Fidel Castro when they were trying to overthrow the dictator at the time, President Fulgencio Batista. My father was one of his right hand men. When Batista was overthrown and Castro came out and pretty much revealed to the world who he really was, that's when my father started a revolution against Castro's forces, trying to overthrow him.”
“At one point he was, if he would have been caught he would have been sent to the firing line. He wasn't caught but they said if we catch this guy we're killing him. So he fled to the Brazilian embassy in Cuba, he hid out for about six or seven months and then after that they snuck him into the United States. He came to the US in 1963.”
“My father was already fighting (Castro) before he took over. During the revolution, when he was on Castro's side, he started to see things that made him think twice about the whole thing, and he eventually switched sides right before Castro took over. He tried to fight him for those last two years. It got to the point where he had to leave.”
“A huge part of it is trying to make my Dad proud and I know he is. That's why he's at every single fight. In the beginning, when I first wanted to do this, he was very unsure of the sport and kind of didn't want me to get into it because he thought it was, like a lot of other people he thought it was – a form of 'human cock fighting'. He thought that I was serious about it though so he supported me with it.”
“Even though he didn't like it, he was there at my first amateur fight, he was there at my second amateur fight, and he's been to every single one since. Now he loves it, now I'll even catch him watching it on TV all the time…”
“It's funny, too, because I remember my dad told me a story about my grandfather. There was a point where my father was in favor of the revolution, he was going to go up to the mountains to help and my grandpa didn't want him going… because he believed that the revolution was bulls—.”
“Even though knowing that he told my father to go and his eyes opened and he saw it for himself, so it's kind of the same thing where I wanted to go into this fighting, my dad didn't think it was a good idea but he still let me go, just like my grandfather let my dad go…”
Dave Meltzer tells the story from the father Jose's perspective.
“Isn't it funny that my son is fighting a Brazilian?”, said the elder Lamas. “They saved my life. Even though the government of Brazil was friendly with Castro, they gave me protection and allowed me to leave Cuba.”
“He has a great heart. Ricardo is very courageous, very creative, and doesn't give up. He has never been submitted. He has never lost a fight by decision. He doesn't talk trash and he doesn't like losing at all. If you want to beat him, you have to take out his heart. He's not going to ever surrender. He's not going to ever give up. He will face Aldo anywhere Aldo wants, and he will take advantage of anything that happens.”
“I very much enjoy the UFC. I learned it's not just about being tough, you have to be an artist, a well-rounded fighter. It's not just punches and kicks.”