A great name that filled the history of Cuban sports with glory was the great Teófilo Stevenson. Born on March 29, 1952 in the town of Delicias, from a young age he demonstrated his talent for fists and, motivated by his parents, decided to dedicate himself to boxing. His physical size gave him entry to the heavy category and in 1968 he won the gold medal at the National Youth Championship in Havana. From there, he began a career full of triumphs and successes defending Cuba, always at an amateur level, despite the fact that he was repeatedly tempted with millions of dollars to dedicate himself to professionalism.
His first participation in the Pan American Games was in Santiago de Cali in 1971 where he lost in the semifinals against the American Duane Bobick. The following year he would jump to stardom by winning the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Stevenson's popularity grew exponentially. In 1975 at the Pan American Games in Mexico, he easily won the gold medal. Four years later he would repeat the feat in San Juan de Puerto Rico.
In Montreal 1976, Teofilo Stevenson at only 24 years old would win his second Olympic title. The idolatry of the Cuban people would arrive at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, when in addition to being the standard-bearer of his country, he became the second boxer in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles, after the Hungarian László Papp. In world titles, he won one after another the crowns of Havana 1974, Belgrade 1978 and Reno 1986. For many the greatest boxer the amateur world has seen in the rings, with a spectacular record in 321 fights of 301 victories, many of them by KO, and only 20 losses, never ending on the canvas.
THE FIGHT THAT NEVER WAS
They say that he would have been a star capable of challenging even Mohamed Ali himself. In 1978 promoters from the United States (including Don King), approached the sports authorities to see if the Ali-Stevenson fight of the century would take place. Ali himself, in the company of several professional boxing promoters, traveled to Havana that year to try to reunite Ali, professional monarch, and Stevenson, Olympic and world champion, in five fights. Ali was 36 years old at the time, 10 years older than Teofilo, still in good physical condition but entering the epilogue of his career. However they could never agree on the number of rounds: Cuba was asking for three, which its champion was used to, but Ali's promoters saw more possibilities for their monarch if the rounds were raised to 10 or 15. There was no fight, but a great meeting between the two legends.
Teófilo Stevenson was an idol of idols, who along with other greats like Félix Savón, Javier Sotomayor and Mijaín López among others, adorn the history of Cuban sports. Stevenson passed away in June 2012 at the age of 60, but his name, his achievements and his legacy in Cuban boxing and sports remained in Pan American and world history.
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