“The Cuban sporting family was moved today by the passing of one of the greatest of all time,” Cuba’s state television reported upon hearing of the legendary fighter’s death.
Stevenson, who was more popularly known as “Pirolo” (a reference to the town in the eastern province of Las Tunas where he was born), began boxing at the age of 14, and two years later won his first international title in the Central American and Caribbean championship.
Teofilo was 25 when he was crowed Olympic champion for the first time at the 1972 Munich games. From there, he accomplished the feat twice more — first in 1976 in Montreal and again in 1980 in Moscow — and was widely considered the greatest amateur boxer of his time.
“The Olympic Games in Munich and Montreal are the fondest memories I have from my life, the best stage of my career,” Stevenson told AP news agency earlier this year.
With this third Olympic title in Moscow, the hard-hitting right-hander became becoming the second boxer to win gold at three separate games after Hungarian Lazlo Papp.
The UK’s Telegraph reports that as Stevenson’s list of accomplishments grew, boxing fans began to fantasize of a “fight of the century” pitting him against Muhammad Ali.
But Cuba insisted that he not lose his amateur status, and the bout never took place.
Over the course of his brilliant career, Stevenson picked up the double title of Central American and Caribbean champ in 1974 and 1982, and was a six-time champion of the Central American boxing tourney between 1970 and 1977.
In addition to his three olympic gold medals, he was also triple champion as a middleweight and light-middleweight and three times world champ in Havana in 1974, Belgrade in 1978 and Reno in 1986.
Following his retirement from the sport in 1988, Teofilo Stevenson became a coach in the ring and served as vice president of the Cuban Boxing Federation.
He is survived by two children.