There are no luxurious locker rooms or air-conditioned gyms in Havana, where kids as young as 8 years old are learning how to box. While the island nation’s most popular sport is baseball, boxing is also regarded as a way to win glory and fame. This comes as no surprise as Cuba has 34 many Olympic gold medals for Olympic boxing in the last four decades.

The rule from the International Boxing Federation is that the youngest age for boxers competing is 15, which is why in Cuba protective headgear is worn when these boys, some of them preteens, are training.

While boxing requires strict discipline, strength, speed and endurance, must kids be learning the sport at such a young age to achieve success?

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that 90 percent of boxers suffer from some kind of brain injury while boxing. The most famous case in the sport is Muhammad Ali, 72, who now suffers from Parkinson’s disease as a result of his years in the ring.

Video courtesy of Reuters