Baseball (pelota) is Cuba's favourite sport. Baseball was brought to Cuba in the 19th century by North Americans. The first games were played by Cuban dock workers and American sailors. The Spanish banned the game in 1895, since the revenues from baseball games were used to support José Martí's independence movement. The ban was lifted after independence.
  Did you know?
A Cuban called Kid Chocolate was a world boxing champion in the 1920s.
Some of the best baseball players in the world are Cuban. However, many Cuban athletes have defected to the United States and other countries. For example, Livan Hernández defected in 1995 and signed up with the Florida Marlins. 

Every year, Cuba holds the School Sports Games, a competition for students. The best athletes between the ages of 11 and 16 are invited to be tested for the Schools for Sports Initiation (EIDE). EIDE students attend regular classes, receive advanced coaching and take part in higher-level competitions. The top graduates from this school enter one of several Schools of Higher Athletic Performance (ESPA).

Cuban athletes have won many Olympic and international medals. At the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba won 265 medals, second only to the United States. Cuba also received the largest number of gold medals. Teófilo Stevenson, a heavyweight boxer, won gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at Montreal in 1976, and at Moscow in 1980. In 1976, Alberto Juantorena won gold medals in the 400- and 800-metre runs. He is the first man to win both events in one Olympic Games. Javier Sotomayor maintains the world record in high jump, and some believe him to be the greatest high jumper of all time.

 Cuban people are excluded from some recreational areas that are open only to foreign tourists. Cubans are not allowed clubs where Cubans enjoy dancing. Cockfights, although illegal, are another favourite pastime. Cubans also enjoy watching television, listening to the radio, playing music or dominoes, and going to baseball and boxing matches.

  Did you know?
Every May since 1962, Ernest Hemingway is remembered in a Cuban competition called the Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament. Fidel Castro has participated in this event.