Stevenson, pride of Cuba, buried after dying of heart attack
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
June 12 - Teofilo Stevenson, the greatest Olympic heavyweight boxer in history who won three gold medals, has been buried in Havana after dying yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 60.
Stevenson was buried in Havana's historic Colon Cemetery, where about 200 people gave him a long round of applause and sang the Cuban national anthem.
In January, Stevenson had spent 15 days in intensive care after doctors detected a clot in an artery near his heart.
Stevenson was a symbol of national pride in the communist country because he always refused to turn professional despite dominating the heavyweight division at the Olympics.
He won the gold at Munich in 1972, Montreal 1976 (pictured below) and Moscow 1980.
After his second gold medal, American fight promoters offered Stevenson a multi-million dollar purse to challenge world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.
But he turned it down.
"What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?" said Stevenson, who in Montreal had knocked out America's future world heavyweight champion John Tate in the first round.
Stevenson was a huge favourite of Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro.
"Teofilo Stevenson deserves recognition by the Cuban people for his sporting success, which comes from his discipline, his dedication to the sport, his bravery and from his morality," Castro said.
After his competitive career ended, Stevenson became a coach of Cuban boxers and served as vice-president of the Cuban Boxing Federation.
A steady stream of admirers and fellow athletes filed past his flag-draped casket in a noisy, crowded Havana funeral home to pay last respects.
Atop the partially opened casket rested a pair of red boxing gloves.
Around it were sprays of flowers from dignitaries, including Castro, his younger brother President Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The only other boxers to win three Olympic gold medals are Hungary's Lazlo Papp and fellow Cuban Felix Savon.
Savon said Stevenson had left Cubans "an example of patriotism, solidarity, brotherhood, love for his flag and for his country."
June 2007: Cuban legend banned from visiting England