June 11th, 2012 By Pedro FernandezCUBA’S #1 ATHLETE OF ALL TIME!
San Francisco, CA- Of all of the baseball players and boxers who have defected from their native Cuba, no athlete was more famous on the island nation than Teofilo Stevenson died of a heart attack on Monday, this according to Cuban National News. Now 60 years old, Teofilo was the 1972, 1976 ad 1980 Olympic heavyweight Gold Medalist. Because President Jimmy Carter boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, a dumb move if ever there was, as Cuban’s leader Fidel Castro did the same for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
WOULD HAVE FACES JAMES BROAD IN ’80 & TYRELL BIGGS IN ’84
Had Stevenson, who stood around 6’5, fought an American in 1980, it would have been the late James Broad, a man who fought everybody in the 1980s before becoming a sparring partner (sadly a punch drunk punching bag) in Las Vegas gyms. Broad died in 2001, homeless and living behind a bus station in North Carolina. In 1984, if Castro wouldn’t have been truculent, Stevenson would have faced Tyrell Biggs. Broad was a big “broad” guy, Biggs was a lean giant at 6’4. Although I think Teofilo would have beaten Broad, he would have had to work to beat Biggs, but I think that in hindsight he would have.
WHAT WAS FIDEL THINKING IN 1988?
Castro mucked up the 1988 Olympics when he wouldn’t send a team to Seoul, South Korea. That it year it would have been Teofilo vs. an undisciplined American named Riddick Bowe. The Cuban would have been 36, but I still think he might have beaten Bowe, who lost to Lennox Lewis in the ’88 heavyweight finals. Lennox vs. Stevensen in ’88 would have been a great Olympic finale.
LIKE LEWIS IN SIZE & ALI ON HIS FEET!
Big like the aforementioned 1988 Olympic champion Lennox Lewis, Teofilo was big, but he had much smoother moves than Lewis, especially afoot. An excellent boxer-puncher, Teofilo turned down $5 million US in the 70s to face Muhammad Ali for the World heavyweight championship. Only one boxer had ever done that before, going straight from the amateurs to a shot at the World heavyweight title and that was 1956 Gold Medalist Pete Rademacher against then champion Floyd Patterson. Floyd was down once, Pete five times, a LO 6 loser.
ALI FIGHT WAS UNLIKE ALI-WILT CHAMBERLAIN
Had Stevenson fought Ali, unlike NBA star 7’1 Wilt Chamberlain who pulled out of an Ali bout, Stevenson was no freak show. Had Ali and Teofilo clashed anywhere from 1974 to 1977, it would have been a fight that would have made the world stop and take notice. But Stevenson’s one-line counter to that fight was as eloquent and important as anything a prizefighter ever said. “Why trade $5 million for the love of eight million people. There will be a huge public funeral for Cuba’s biggest sports star ever Stevenson later this week. His death is thought to be because of a heart attack, as it was a heart ailment that had him in the hospital in January 2012. Historically, the only other two athletes who won Olympic Gold three times were Hungary’s Laszlo Papp and fellow Cuban Felix Savon.