Fidel Castro: A life in tracksuits


Fidel Castro’s death on Nov. 25 drew statements both cold and warm from world leaders, but no one can dispute the barriers he broke in political fashion. The architect of the Cuban Revolution cultivated an iconic personal image, and after the military fatigues and ever-present Cuban cigars of his youth, in 2006, Castro famously transitioned to a more relaxed —but equally recognizable—athleisure uniform: “el chandalismo revolucionario,” or “the revolutionary tracksuit.”

After ceding power to his brother Raul at the age of 80, the elderly Castro wore tracksuits to address Cuban communist party members, meet with the Pope and confer with Chinese president Xi Jinping. As biographer Ann Louise Bardach explained to the Telegraph, Castro likely opted for the soft suits to hide his colostomy bag, while Buzzfeed notes that his taste for Adidas was linked to special collections made by the company for Cuba’s Olympic Team.

Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez
Castro meets with fellow tracksuit lover President Hugo Chavez in June 2011, both wearing tracksuits. Chavez sports Venezuelan colors. (AP Photo/Granma)
Cuban leader Fidel Castro poses in this photo taken by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during their meeting in Havana
TV appearance during a meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Reuters/CubaVision TV/Handout/Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva)
Cuba's leader Castro takes a photograph of Brazil's President Lula during a meeting in Havana
Castro takes a photograph of Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a meeting in Havana January 15, 2008. (Reuters/Cuba Government/Handout )
Cuba's President Castro reads a book during a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Chavez in Havana
Reading a book to Chavez in Havana in October, 2007. (Reuters/Handout/Juventud Rebelde)
Pope Francis, Fidel Castro
A uniform that celebrates hard work and labor? (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Fidel Castro, Xi Jinping
Meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping in November 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Cuba Algeria
Meeting with Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal in October 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Hassan Rouhani, Fidel Castro
Meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin
Castro meets Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in July 2014 (AP Photo/Alex Castro, File)
Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura
Castro addressing Communist party at the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, in April 2016 (AP Photo/Cubadebate/Ismael Francisco)
Fidel Castro, Nguyen Tan Dung
Meeting Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Fidel Castro, Francois Hollande, Bruno Rodriguez
Meeting French President Francois Hollande in May, 2015. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Fidel Castro
Castro prepares his vote for municipal elections at his house in Havana, Cuba, in April 2015. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Fidel Castro
Castro studying his ballot to elect Cuba’s new Communist Party Central Committee at his home in Havana, Cuba, Monday April 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
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