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01 Aug 1980
Moscow 1980

Stevenson confirms heavyweight status with third straight gold

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.

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