His father gave him his nickname, a tribute to a legend from his homeland. Now, in a tribute of his own, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin is striving to give his father back his homeland.
It’s been more than three decades since Quillin’s dad, Pedro, visited his native Cuba.
In the summer of 1980, the elder Quillin, a butcher who was jailed at the time for illegally selling meat on the side, was part of a prison release effort by Cuban president Fidel Castro that brought him to America.
Pedro hasn’t been back to Cuba since.
Soon, that may change.
The recent restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba for the first time in 50 years, and the ensuing easing of travel restrictions between the two countries could enable Quillin to finally realize his goal of reuniting his father with the family he left behind 34 years ago.
“I think it will be possible. That’s what we’re working on right now,” Quillin says. “Hopefully, it will happen soon.”
The younger Quillin, who will fight 160-pound champion Andy Lee on April 11 in Brooklyn, New York, in a Premier Boxing Champions card live on NBC, was able to visit Cuba a few years back. He came away from the experience deeply affected by getting closer in touch with his heritage.
“I went there just to learn who my dad was, but I learned who I was, too,” he says. “I met (some of) my brothers for the first time. I made a promise to my family there that I would do everything it takes for me to take my dad back to Cuba to see his kids before he passed.”
Quillin, who became a father himself in August with the birth of his son Joaquin, has learned firsthand about the enduring bond of familial ties.
“My dad told me that when I went to Cuba, if he had died right then, he would have been happy with what I had done,” he said, clearly touched by the thought, his voice positioned somewhere between awe and disbelief. “That’s crazy, right?”
No, just a father being proud of his son.
It’s a feeling he intends to reciprocate.
“My dad is 77 years old,” Quillin says. “If I secure this part of my life, I will have accomplished a lot.”