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Moscow 1980


Stevenson ends golden heavyweight reign

Stevenson ends golden heavyweight reign


Teofilo Stevenson was the greatest amateur boxer the world has ever seen, who eschewed the millions on offer in the professional game in favour of the honour and pride of representing his native Cuba.

He was a magnificent physical specimen: blessed with chiselled good looks and effortless grace and speed around the ring, Stevenson had crushed all opposition in winning gold medals in the heavyweight category in Munich and Montreal.

At Munich, he had been a raw 20-year-old but by the time the Olympic Games in Moscow arrived he was a hugely experienced craftsman in the ring.

He had twice won the world amateur title as well as his Olympic accolades, and despite the persistent advances of American promoters, he remained an amateur throughout his career, famously saying: “I prefer the affection of eight million Cubans.”

In Moscow, Stevenson was at his glorious best. He scored first and third-round knockdowns in his opening two bouts while in the semi-final his opponent, Istvan Leva of Hungary, secured the notable achievement of becoming the first boxer to go the distance against the Cuban in Olympic competition.

But he won that decisively 5-0 on points and booked his place in the final against Russian Pyotr Zayev.

Stevenson oozed confidence as the bell started the gold-medal fight. He outfoxed Zayev at every turn and recorded another comfortable points victory at the Olympiski Sports Complex.

The boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles by Cuba denied Stevenson the chance of an unprecedented fourth straight boxing gold yet he demonstrated his longevity by winning another world title in 1986 at the age of 34.

Cuba also boycotted the 1988 Games in Seoul and, who knows, had politics not prevented Stevenson from competing, he might have won five golds.

He turned to coaching after his retirement and died at the age of 60 in 2012.

Discover the best photos of Moscow 1980

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    The final torchbearer, basketballer Sergei Belov, in the Moscow Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony


  • Relay Moscow 1980

    A torchbearer during the Moscow 1980 Games Torch relay


  • Aleksandr Dityatin (URS)

    Aleksandr Dityatin on the rings at the Moscow 1980 Games


  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The reverse of this medal is very different from its obverse. However, it is not the work of the same artist. While the obverse was a creation by Giuseppe Cassioli, the reverse was designed by Ilya Postol, a young Soviet sculptor. We can see several elements that stand out through their stylisation: an Olympic cauldron, an athletics track in the background and the official logo of the Moscow Games on the top right ©CIO

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The obverse comprises a design by Tuscan artist Giuseppe Cassioli. This motif can be found on the obverse of all the winner’s medals presented at the Summer Games since 1928 with the exception of three special cases: Barcelona'92, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. An inscription, in Cyrillic, allows us to make the link with the Moscow Games. This is its transcription in the Latin alphabet and its translation: “Igry XXII Olympiady Moskva 1980” / “Games of the XXII Olympiad, Moscow 1980”©IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    View of the delegations standing in front of the Misha mascot created by the public holding up boards