Final Days of Teofilo Stevenson

By George Thomas Clark on January 20, 2014
Final Days of Teofilo Stevenson
Teofilo Stevenson said, do I look like I regret any decision I've made? I have no regrets.

In 1999 the Cuban slugger certifiably head-butted and broke some teeth of an airline ticket employee in Miami…

In my adult ESL class dominated by students from Mexico I heard a different accent and in Spanish asked, where are you from?

Cuba, he said.

Too bad Teofilo Stevenson died so young, only sixty.

He had alcohol and drug problems, and many problems with women, too.

Really?

Sí.

I was stunned. I hadn’t envisioned Teofilo Stevenson as a man who’d have major problems. Instead his name always for me evoked images of a man tall and strong, swift and graceful who glided in the rings of international amateur boxing as he patiently left jabbed opponents, and waited, knowing what many of his targets surely sensed. There’d be an opening at the side of a head or on a jaw, and like an automated weapon, too fast to avoid and too powerful to withstand, the right hand of Teofilo Stevenson would fire and crumple those before him. 

In the 1972 Olympics Duane Bobick, the favorite who’d decisioned nineteen-year-old Stevenson the year before, was knocked into a fetal position on the canvas. In the 1976 Olympics a single right finished John Tate, who slumped in a corner. Stevenson captured his third gold medal in 1980 when the United States boycotted the Games to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. He likewise won the World Amateur Championship three times, highlighted by his decision over Tony Tubbs and right-hand bombing of Alex Garcia. He also tripled his titles in the Pan American Games where in 1978 he defeated Michael Dokes.

So impressive was Teofilo Stevenson that most observers considered him a likely professional champion, if he wanted to be so. Tony Tubbs, Michael Dokes, and John Tate would proceed to win portions of the heavyweight title. Duane Bobick and Alex Garcia forged solid professional careers. Stevenson’s fans, particularly in communist countries, shouted that he would also beat Muhammad Ali, he’d hammer George Foreman, he’d dominate Larry Holmes. To those boasts I must say: hold it, Stevenson fought only men when they were amateurs and never did so more than three rounds, after which many pros are just breaking a sweat. Also, Igor Vysotsky, a stocky Russian slugger but not pro-caliber contender, outpointed Stevenson in 1973 and stopped him three years later. To win the heavyweight championship of the free world, Teofilo Stevenson would’ve had to fight up to fifteen rounds against the speed and toughness of Ali and Holmes. He would’ve had to withstand Foreman blows more powerful than those of Vysotsky. He would’ve had to stand on the grandest stage.

Teofilo Stevenson said he cared not for the money or Westernized glory offered him by Don King and other carnies, and we must believe him. He certainly had opportunities to defect at many locations around the world, but that would’ve taken him far from the love of several million Cubans whose feelings, he emphasized, mattered most to him. But what else mattered to Stevenson, a man who had more than three hundred amateur fights and fought thousands of rounds in the gym? How did those ring skirmishes affect him? We don’t know what he would’ve been like without receiving countless blows to the head, but boxing history is rife with men who behaved badly during and after their careers.

Not long before Teofilo Stevenson died in June 2012, a man called Brin-Jonathan Butler privately paid Stevenson – not the Cuban government – a hundred fifty dollars for seventy-five minutes of his time on camera. Butler warily entered the gate through walls that surrounded Stevenson’s modest home, a gift from noted sports director Fidel Castro. Some people in Havana said wives – Stevenson divorced four times – and girlfriends occasionally had to escape over the walls or through the gate. In 1999 the slugger certifiably head-butted and broke some teeth of an airline ticket employee in Miami. Stevenson said he was harassed. The employee swore otherwise. Stevenson, then a boxing official, returned to Cuba with the team and never revisited the United States. 

Brin-Jonathan Butler wrote that when he arrived, early in the morning, Stevenson was already intoxicated and drinking vodka from a water bottle. He was also smoking and, during the interview, demanded a couple of cigarette breaks, camera off but the clock running. When questioning resumed Stevenson stated that he did not regret declining to turn pro and fight Ali. How could he have fought the great Ali? Look at the picture of the two comrades on Stevenson’s wall. Ali is shrunken into a pugilistic Parkinson’s shell of incontinence and virtually unrecognizable as the beautiful athlete he’d been. How could we have fought, Stevenson asked? We’re brothers. If you imagine the young Ali superimposed over the old one, the men do look alike, as Stevenson, too, was a magnificent man. 

Did he have any regrets?

Inhaling a cigarette, swigging more vodka, gray and skinny Teofilo Stevenson said, do I look like I regret any decision I’ve made? I have no regrets, I’m the happiest man in the world. And our time is up.


George Thomas Clark is the author of Uppercuts, a collection of boxing stories available as an eBook at Amazon.com and other Digital Stores. His short story collection, The Bold Investor, is also available. See the author’s website at www.GeorgeThomasClark.com.

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  1. Mike Schmidt 02:59pm, 01/29/2014

    Agreed GTC- I always thought Page was special- a great reach ( think it was 81 or 82) and when in his prime a very good sneak right hand. I remember well his win against James Quick Tillis. Same right hand that dropped Tyson woozy on the canvas during sparring the week before Iron Mike lost to big Buster.  Just a lousy lousy ending to his life….....

  2. George Thomas Clark 02:07pm, 01/28/2014

    Greg Page’s story is obviously tragic - paralysis and early death.  But sometimes, especially when he was young, he was in great shape, as when he knocked out champion Gerrie Coetzee, who was in his prime and quite formidable, having knocked out Leon Spinks and Michael Dokes when both were undefeated.

  3. Ted 08:29am, 01/28/2014

    And something can be said for loyalty (even if privileged). However, this in no way relates to defectors of recent years as those were your assumption/conclusions, nicolas, not mine.

  4. Ted 07:37am, 01/28/2014

    nicolas, I think you overanalyzed my statement. What I meant was rather than turn pro (with possibility of defecting), he willingly and verbally made the decision to stay in Cuba. In doing so, he displayed his love for his homeland. No big deal, but it was a reflection of his core values with the stress on HIS. In short, he walked the walk.

  5. nicolas 02:16am, 01/28/2014

    Michael Dokes and Greg Page certainly did not live to their potential. Dokes was weird as someone else stated here because of his illegal drug use. I would not be surprised about the same for Greg Page, but he also did not stay in very good shape. I remember during his last year I believe as an amateur Howard Cosell was interviewing him after a fight and Howard commented about fat around his midsection. Later on I remember his second fight with a gentleman named George Chaplin. The first fight was a majority win for Page, the second was a split decision for Page, a victory I don’t think he deserved. Page though I remember, here at only 23, sitting in his corner with a tire iron around his waste. Six years later he would even lose to Joe Bugner in Australia, though I believe Page said he was robbed.

  6. nicolas 02:07am, 01/28/2014

    TED: I have just read your comments about Stevenson not turning pro ‘as a reflection of his integrity and values’ and was somewhat taken aback by that comment. This is also partially because my mother and father came from areas that would become communist, East Germany and Poland respectively. I don’t know if you were being facetious, but are you suggesting that the present Cuban fighters who have defected had less integrity and lower values than Stevenson. I would point out to you that back then with the backing of the Soviet Union, people like Stevenson might have been treated more like royalty than they are now in the present depressed state of Cuba. Joel Casamayor stated when he won the Olympic gold that he got a bicycle from Fidel for his efforts, I am sure Stevenson got a hell lot more. Stevenson I would suggest would not have defected because he knew where his bread was buttered, and my defecting he might not have been as sure if he would have been able to sustain the life style he did have, also the uncertainty if he would have been successful. Casamayor realized where his bread could be buttered. Felix Savon also started at the time when the money was coming from the Soviet Union. When that stopped, he might have also thought that he was too old to turn pro at that time, and may have been living then with a comfortable lifestyle that other Cubans could only dream of.

  7. Eric 05:19pm, 01/24/2014

    Cooney’s chin might let him down against Stevenson. A Cooney vs. Wlad fight would be intriguing considering both men have vulnerable chins and are both huge punchers.

  8. George Thomas Clark 08:08am, 01/24/2014

    Intriguing fight, Cooney v. Stevenson.  Stevenson probably drops the right-hand bomb on him.  He was much more graceful and had too many skills for Cooney.

  9. Mike Schmidt 04:41am, 01/24/2014

    The year plus layoff was certainly a factor for Cooney- he was busy and red hot with stoppages on Lyle, Young and Norton ( albeit all past their prime but he beat hell out of them) and one has to think if he had gotten his fight with Larry even six months earlier he would have been mentally and physically sharper-going back to watch that fight you see it was a great fight, and Cooney can take big time pride in it. It also shows what a tough dude Larry was mentally and physically because he took a lot of big shots. Cooney vs Teo- yeah that would be a cool one- Cooney, prime, had a decent long jab- never thought of this scrap- great thread-and yes maybe who hits who first hard and see ya later!!

  10. Ted 07:09pm, 01/23/2014

    Yes. Of course. Cooney was at his prime in the Holmes fight and gave a splendid performance, But his head got messed up and that was that. I could see one of his left hooks taking out Teo.  But I also can see one of Teo’s snapping rights taking out Gerry. Interesting fight and tough to call.

  11. Eric 06:33pm, 01/23/2014

    Cooney certainly had all the physical tools to become champion, but maybe his heart was never really in boxing. A focused prime Cooney would certainly present Teo or even the Klits with quite a challenge. Cooney never really recovered from the Holmes fight, and the shame is he actually didn’t do that badly considering all the inactivity he had leading up to the fight. To this day, I don’t see how in the world Cooney lost to Michael Spinks. Whether Cooney had drug or alcohol problems during the time, one has to think he would have been in shape for Spinks. You have to wonder how much different Gerry Cooney’s career would’ve gone had he beaten Holmes back in ‘82. The Holmes fight for all practical purposes ended Cooney’s career as a top flight contender.

  12. Ted 05:04pm, 01/23/2014

    A prime Cooney vs Teo would have been interesting.

  13. El Bastardo Magnifico 01:53pm, 01/23/2014

    Eric your comments are bringing a smile- Mr George Chuvalo asked me last night why I picked Dempsey ( he did not agree or disagree- only his comment that Dempsey was “a big ferocious fighter….)- he also said he was a hell of a nice guy- anyways, he asked why I picked Dempsey and I said that I thought it would be a furious assault by Dempsey at the get go of the first bell, with Louis trying to fend him off and that Dempsey….drum roll Sir…had the better whiskers when it came to that fast and furious first round. Interesting- and to Joe Frazier vs Teo- I am not to sure that Joe should be so easily discounted here-at least not that 1969-1971 machine. Again, maybe a case of who lands who- if Frazier got inside he would have chewed the big guy up. George Chuvalo has his new book out (fabulous by the way- all the stories of that great era of late 50’s thru the blazing 70’s) and he rates extremely high Joe’s bobby and weaving defensive style- different fighter, and ruined after the 71 Ali fight.
    Stevenson was an awesome specimen, a tremendous talent, and he would have been one hell of a force as a seasoned pro- hence we comment on here!!! My man at 1980 Olympic Gold, Jose Gomez would have been a huge force as a pro-he knocked many an man out with single right hand shots, and had more of a pro style than big Teo. I am told Jose is alive and well down Cuba way.

  14. George Thomas Clark 01:44pm, 01/23/2014

    In 1978, a down time with Ali aged and Foreman retired, Stevenson would probably have beaten everyone - except Holmes, who had the jab, the right cross, the chin, and the ring generalship to wear Stevenson down.  Of course, we don’t know how Stevenson would’ve responded to training and fighting as a professional.  He certainly would’ve been even better.

    Kurt lists these fighters as likely to trouble Stevenson - Ali, Foreman, Bonavena, Klitschko,  Lewis,  Liston….  I would add Vitali and Frazier to that list and delete Bonavena.  Both K’s match and even exceed Stevenson’s size.  They’re not as fluid but they may be tougher.  Stevenson would be favored to drop the explosive right hand on Smokin’ Joe, but if Joe delivered that jackhammer left hook I don’t think Teo would’ve have withstood it.

    I think almost all boxing fans regret not seeing Stevenson versus the top pros.  Imagine if the Celtics and Lakers never played.

  15. Kurt 01:25pm, 01/23/2014

    Stevenson probably had the perfect physique for a heavyweight boxer.  6’ 5’’  220 , lean, no body fat.  Never saw him out of shape his entire career.  Great power , thundering power, very good jab, granite chin,  and a   ringwise sense of total confidence . He only had 3 round to work with. Thats whats so incredible about him.  He only had 3 rounds to lower to boom. Generally big powerful heavyweights need a couple rounds to loosen up.  His fights were dramatic because you knew he would eventually   catch his opponent .  If all George Foreman, and Ernie Shavers fights were 3 rounders they would have lost half of them .  With proper training for distance fights I think Stevenson would have beaten guys like Norton, Quarry , Holmes, Bugner,  Young, Shavers , Cooney, Spinks, Thomas, Tucker,  Joe Frazier, Ellis (That would have been a massacre),  Terrell,  Ingo, Patterson, Folley, Machen ,  Doug Jones. Guys that would give him trouble were, Ali, Foreman, Bonavena, Klitschko,  Lewis,  Liston.

  16. Eric 01:22pm, 01/23/2014

    @El Bastardo Magnifico, I could very well see Dempsey overwhelming Louis early with a typical Dempsey like blitzkrieg attack, and once Dempsey had his man in trouble it was over with. Louis didn’t have a great set of whiskers, at least not on par with Dempsey’s chin. I always thought the best fantasy matchup for Dempsey would be Marciano, and Jack Johnson as an opponent for Louis. As far as Dempsey vs Stevenson, I don’t think Dempsey ever fought someone as big as Stevenson who could move and hit like him. Sure Dempsey feasted on big men, but how many of those men could move like Stevenson, were as quick as Stevenson or possessed a right hand like Teo?

  17. Kurt 01:18pm, 01/23/2014

    Stevenson probably had the perfect a physic for a heavyweight boxer.  6’ 5’’  220 , lean, no body fat.  Never saw him out of shape his entire career.  Great power , thundering power, very good jab, granite chin,  and a   ringwise sense of total confidence . He only had 3 round to work with. Thats whats so incredible about him.  He only had 3 rounds to lower to boom. Generally big powerful heavyweights need a couple rounds to loosen up.  His fights were dramatic because you knew he would eventually   catch his opponent .  If all George Foreman, and Ernie Shavers fights were 3 rounders they would have lost half of them .  With proper training for distance fights I think Stevenson would have beaten guys like Norton, Quarry , Holmes, Bugner,  Young, Shavers , Cooney, Spinks, Thomas, Tucker,  Joe Frazier, Ellis (That would have been a massacre),  Terrell,  Ingo, Patterson, Folley, Machen ,  Doug Jones. Guys that would give him trouble were, Ali, Foreman, Bonavena, Klitschko,  Lewis,  Liston.

  18. El Bastardo Magnifico 05:17am, 01/23/2014

    Very interesting perspective Eric- when you think of it that way- ie line up the top 1978 fighters and imagine Teo with some pro seasoning- yes one could very very realistically at that time see the big commee stretch all those guys. Now on the other thread, just joking here, but the suggestion, by error, of Roberto representing the U.S.of A would probably bring a punch in the mouth from the wily old Wolf of Panama- he is Panama true blue and all the way thru. All in fun and have a nice day. PS Eric- I had dinner with a bunch of guys last night, including Mr George Chuvalo and Mr Weasel Elkind- Mr Weasel asked of me “who would win between a prime Jou Louis and a prime Dempsey.” I asked why he asked - “Because nobody ever asks that one.” Don’t know if that is the case but…George is always the gent so he never gives you a winner…just comments-“Well, Dempsey was one hell of a fighter, ferocious….” I like Dempsey, who by the way, in keeping somewhat in the context of this Teo thing- I think in his absolute animal like prime would have flattened big Teo-so there- I said it. Now, adios and have a nice day.

  19. Eric 06:20pm, 01/22/2014

    But look how the Eastern Europeans are dominating the heavier weight classes today in the pro ranks today.

  20. David G 04:42pm, 01/22/2014

    As has always been the case in the Olympics, the Communist countries send their best athletes. period.

    The USA and other free countries send their best amateurs.

    If you think there’s no difference, look what happened when the USA stopped sending their best college basketball players and sent their best players, period. They won every single game by 30 points or more.

    In boxing, imagine Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Michael Spinks, and Larry Holmes representing the USA instead of the best amateurs.

    Cuba, USSR, and China always sent the best they had. Other countries did not.

  21. Ted 04:39pm, 01/22/2014

    Page was a great amateur. Never totally fulfilled his potential.  Dokes was a very strange person with a number of strange habits.

  22. Eric 03:27pm, 01/22/2014

    Michael Dokes, Greg Page, Tony Tubbs, Tim Witherspoon,  the era of the underachievers. I could see a motivated and well trained Dokes beating Larry Holmes, but too often Dokes was a disappointment in some of his bigger fights. Dokes even drew with Ossie Ocasio in their first fight. Granted, Dokes quickly dispatched the blown-up cruiserweight in their rematch but you just never knew which Michael Dokes would show up. I’m not an ardent fan of Larry Holmes, who I view as a poor man’s Ali, and Holmes fittingly ruled the heavyweight roost at one of the least talented eras ever. Stevenson was too young and inexperienced to take on the major heavyweights in ‘72-‘74, but by 1976 or so, he would have became champion if he had decided to turn pro. Around 1978, the top 5 heavyweights were probably Holmes, Norton, Young, Ali, and Spinks. I see Stevenson beating all of those fighters during that period. From 1978 until Tyson came along the heavyweight division was pretty weak.

  23. Kurt 11:52am, 01/22/2014

    When I first heard about the alleged head butting issue I was very skeptical . Southern Florida can be a highly volatile political area for someone like Stevenson.  We will never know what really happened.

  24. Kurt 11:14am, 01/22/2014

    While I was visiting with Dokes at Tacos gym I noticed a pile of gold coins in a baggie next to his gym bag. I asked him if he collected gold coins.  He said no , then he said the coins cost him $12,000 and he was going to swallow them right   before going to prison.

  25. Ted 10:39am, 01/22/2014

    BTW, GTC, This was a most enjoyable read (and thread). Keep these coming. In fact, I am full of self loathing that I did not think about it first. Arghh.

  26. Ted 10:32am, 01/22/2014

    Dokes was full of crap and got a gift against Weaver. Coetzee exposed him and that was that.

  27. Kurt 10:30am, 01/22/2014

    I met , spoke with Michael Dokes at Johhny Toccos gym in Las Vegas shortly before he was incarcerated. I asked him about the Stevenson fight, he told me he lied about his age when he started his amateur career,  he insisted he was only 15 when he fought Stevenson.  He didn’t tell me he could have beaten Stevenson a couple years later,  but he did say, he could have been beaten Larry Holmes.  He said Don King prevented that fight from taking place. Dokes emphasized he could have whipped Larry.

  28. Ted 10:30am, 01/22/2014

    I don’t think so. What he did in the ring is intrinsic and not subject to change by what he did outside. It discredit’s his Olympic aura and personal demeanor, but not his boxing accomplishments.

    Like I said, I think you have to compartmentalize.

    BTW, Does anyone have a link to the alleged head-butting incident?


    Kurt, one of the greatest. Savon was pretty good too. And Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis were pretty good as well, But that’s another discussion. My take of Stevenson is that he was one of the truly great heavyweights of all time.

  29. Mike Schmidt 10:12am, 01/22/2014

    Two wrongs, or more, do not make a right even though Teo had one hell of a right!!! Shameful behaviour-he discredited himself doing such…

  30. Kurt 10:00am, 01/22/2014

    One last comment, allegedly head butting a ticket agent,  does not compare to what Michael Dokes did when his career was over.

  31. Kurt 09:47am, 01/22/2014

    Stevenson was one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all-time , not just another great Cuban Boxer.

  32. Ted 09:23am, 01/22/2014

    In the end, what he did in the ring and how he finished his life are two distinct things that must be compartmentalized in my view. His ring accomplishments and his right hand are what make him stand out. The fact that he was arrogant and a communist have absolutely nothing to do with my enjoying his ring accomplishments. In many ways, the fact he did not become a pro is a reflection of his integrity and values. Like Savon and many others, he will go down in history as still another great Cuban fighter.


    The right hand was/is a Lewis, Hearns, and Wlad thing—and it is a jackhammer.

  33. Mike Schmidt 08:19am, 01/22/2014

    Thanks Kurt- I am looking at their birth dates and Dokes was a mere pup in 1975-17 or 18 to Teo’s 25. I would love to watch it again- the score of the fight was razor tight. Yes, when it was Olympic Showtime the man was a destroyer. Would he could he have gone on to become The Heavyweight Champ of the world with a little pro seasoning- but of course- obviously Big John got there and we saw what Teo did there, amongst a feast of many top US Heavies.

  34. George Thomas Clark 08:15am, 01/22/2014

    Mike - I haven’t looked for the Dokes fight, but I want to emphasize no one online is going to find the 1976 Vysotsky KO of Stevenson.  That’‘s surprising since the fight was in Russia, and the hosts presumably would’ve wanted to preserve the footage, unlike the Cubans who’ve either destroyed or hidden the 1973 shellacking Vysotsky put on Stevenson in Cuba while winning the decision.

    Stevenson fought more than 300 times.  Of course he’s entitled to some losses.  These aren’t criticisms but they are relevant historical facts.

  35. Kurt 08:15am, 01/22/2014

    When you fight amateur for over 15 years its no big deal to lose a couple of fights. You can’t do the Mayweather Jr. bit and hand pick all your opponents . Mr. Clark have you ever fought in the ring? Trust me when the money was on the line Stevenson produced. What more could the man have done?

  36. George Thomas Clark 08:09am, 01/22/2014

    No big deal - getting decked by Vysotsky in three straight rounds prior to being stopped?  Now that’s a historical rewrite.

    Saying that fight was unimportant would be like saying Ali’s first two fights with Norton were insignificant since they weren’t for the heavyweight championship.

    If Stevenson had trained and fought as a pro, he may well have become one of the all time greats. 

    He certainly had the greatest right in the history of pugilism.

  37. Kurt 08:09am, 01/22/2014

    I saw the Stevenson - Dokes fight when it was broadcast live,  When the bell rang for the fight to start Dokes rushed out of his corner and tried to catch Stevenson with a sucker punch before Stevenson could react . Stevenson did react to and nailed Dokes with a great right hand that floored him and took all the starch out of him.  Dokes basically fought to survive for the rest of the fight. He was beaten thoroughly .

  38. George Thomas Clark 08:05am, 01/22/2014

    Kurt - Stevenson was indisputably in another league as an amateur, but it is not necessary for me to rewrite history to say the obvious: Jimmy Clark not only won the first round of their third fight, linked above, he hurt Stevenson.  And the Great Teo needed, and received, assistance from the referee.  Anyone who disputes this analysis has only to review the fight.

  39. Mike Schmidt 07:58am, 01/22/2014

    Does anybody have a link to the Dokes fight- it was on TV so it must be floating around- I might be thinking of another fight- but if this is the one- Dokes got dropped early and hurt a number of times but scrapped all the way to the finish- would love to see it again. Have to check but I think Dokes was a fair bit younger than the Teo

  40. Kurt 07:53am, 01/22/2014

    Stevenson won every round of the fight you have the link to.  BTW it was held in the USA,  not Havana.  Stevenson was even punishing Clark hard right hand shots to the body , that he would only throw if he was completely in control and wanted to punish Clark not just beat him.  Stevenson was on another level , when he fought in the Olympics (The ultimate tournament)  he was in a zone that made him unbeatable. The two loses you mention were no big deal. He peaked when the money was on the line.  When it really counted Stevenson was unbeatable.  Please try not to rewrite history.

  41. Mike Schmidt 05:49am, 01/22/2014

    GTC is there anything out there to watch on Dokes and the big Commie?

  42. George Thomas Clark 10:20pm, 01/21/2014

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWxn-MWlNZ4

    This superb link leads to ABC coverage of the third Jimmy
    Clark - Teofilo Stevenson fight.  Stevenson won their first fight in what Howard Cosell said was a close but controversial decision.  Stevenson stopped Clark the second time.

    This third fight is the one some of us have posted about.  The Cuban referee - Alfredo Toledo - was evidently a man without dignity.  His only purpose was to protect Stevenson, and he did that by halting the bout at least 13 times to warn Clark about imaginary fouls, especially butting.  He twice took away points from Clark, repeatedly disrupted his rhythm and concentration, and prevented him from taking advantage of his effective left hooks in the first round - when Stevenson was hurt - and his combinations in the second round.

    Stevenson did floor Clark in the third round, but the latter rose and finished well, though he lost another ( his second) point.  Cosell was correct.  Alfredo Toledo - El Mentiroso - made a “farce” of the fight.  Stevenson was a great amateur but those who study this clip, and his knockout loss to Vysolsky, will probably conclude he was prudent to avoid Ali, Foreman, and Holmes.  He couldn’t have beaten them, even if Alfredo Toledo had refereed.

  43. George Thomas Clark 09:54pm, 01/21/2014

    I wish Page had boarded the plane.  As a young fighter he had great mobility and was excellent on defense; he might have given Stevenson trouble.  I remember seeing a televised match when Page was only 17 or 18 and he danced and jabbed for three rounds while beating Vysotsky (I believe it was Igor, but can’t swear.)

  44. Kurt 07:15pm, 01/21/2014

    I recall Stevenson easily beating Mike Dokes in the 1975 Pan Am games knocking him down in the 1st round . The Clark fights I have in my collection, and can say Stevenson won both of them fairly.  There was the time in 1977 when Greg Page was at the airport and refused to board the plane with the rest of the US team when he found out he would have to fight Stevenson in a dual meet. Completely chicken out.  Stevenson would have won his 4th gold medal had Cuba not boycotted the 1984 Olympics, and he might have won a 5th gold medal in 1988 if Cuban had not boycotted.

  45. Ted 05:54pm, 01/21/2014

    Had Jimmy Clark not been stiffed by a Cuban referee, he would have beaten Stevenson. Totally f—ked and the crowd knew it as they booed the decision loudly.

    Clark finished with a 19-1 pro record but never fought anyone decant.

  46. Mike Schmidt 05:15pm, 01/21/2014

    I have a vague recollection of watching one of the Jimmy Clark fights- have to go back and watch it- Clark had a very nice pro career going and was one of the few guys to remember that just flat out turned his back on all the nonsense of getting fight etc and retired-to a nice career in the legal field.

  47. Mike Schmidt 05:06pm, 01/21/2014

    Nicolas- fantastic- a name I have not thought of in over 30 years and you bring it- Nick Wells- great scrapper- I think he starched Larry in the amateurs twice or maybe even thrice- he had huge power and knocked a load of opponents out in the amateurs in the first round- which is tough to do. Eric as luck would have it I am having dinner tomorrow night with George and a few guys including The Weasel Elkind down at a one of George’s favorites, “Joso’s” or as Mick Jagger calls it when he is in Toronto, “The Boob Place” ( apparently he can never remember the name- more on the dinner- story a coming- I like my steak, George loves his fish- we are going fish at Joso’s!!!! Who am I to argue. I am told George can bench over four hundred and yes he is still as strong as a Croatian Bull and as sharp mentally as a razor sharp- he has an amazing ability of recall from 40 plus years ago- places, faces, colors, comments- apparently he has always been this way- amazing

  48. Ted 04:27pm, 01/21/2014

    nicolas , Good call. It’s one I’ll watch and watch and watch. Never get tired of it.

  49. George Thomas Clark 03:29pm, 01/21/2014

    Stevenson, sadly, suffered from a classic case of denial…

  50. Eric 03:25pm, 01/21/2014

    Drinking vodka and chasing it down with a pack of smokes for breakfast certainly doesn’t help the body age gracefully, but it seems a lot of boxers don’t age well. George Chuvalo, certainly appears to be the exception rather than the rule, Chuvalo looks younger than his age and still appears strong as an ox. Stevenson looks older than his 60 years in that photo. Substituting vodka for your morning orange juice? One has to wonder if Stevenson was just giving lip service to all that about having “no regrets” and being “the happiest man in the world.”

  51. nicolas 03:17pm, 01/21/2014

    I never felt that the Stevenson before 76 would have been a world champion, but after is what I have said. With a good trainer used to the pro ranks I do feel he would have been a world champ. I remember that fight with Dokes, I think that Dokes was knocked down several times but did cut Stevenson. I don’t remember it being 3-2 though, with I think Stevenson the clear winner, without any ref bias. Also wasn’t that in 79?. Have to look.  I remember Jimmy Clark and being robbed in that fight with Stevenson. Strange that he and Nick Wells never became good in the professional ranks, but not all top amateur fighters did, even back then when they did not wear head gear. Who knows however, with all his problems that he had, had he defected maybe the drug problems would have been sooner and greater, and he would have ended up like Jose Luis Gonzalez

  52. El Bastardo Magnifico 02:49pm, 01/21/2014

    I recall Mike Dokes, I think 74 or 75 at the Pan-Ams giving Stevenson all he could handle and then some in losing a 3-2 split- This is the same Dokes who a very depleted and fat Ali use to absolutely play with during sparring exhibitions. Ali up to 74 would have destroyed Stevenson. I am a huge Stevenson fan and he had an absolutely exquisite right hand- he would have gone far and post Ali and the first coming of Foreman he would have been very top rank competitive- his big competition would have been Larry and as rightfully pointed out- hard to tell how he would have fared with his upright, on the toes, style, over a longer distance- any which way a gem of a big man stylist to watch with KO right hand power- nice article and one hell of a picture- now get me started on the great 1980 Cuban gold medalist Jose Gomez- lordee what I would have given to sign a guy like that- he would have been a terror as a pro

  53. George Thomas Clark 02:36pm, 01/21/2014

    It depends on timing.  The Ali who beat Foreman in 1974 and Frazier in 1975 Manila would’ve knocked out Stevenson, which Vysotky did do and Jimmy Clark might have if Stevenson hadn’t been saved by the Cuban referee.  After 1978, as Eric says, he would’ve had less competition.  Larry Holmes would’ve been the primary barrier.  Holmes had an iron jaw and great endurance and probably would’ve taken Stevenson, who may have tired in later rounds.  It’s impossible to project how a guy who never fought more than three rounds would do over 12 or 15 . 

    Ironically, both Stevenson and Holmes were beaten by Duane Bobick in 1971.  Those two guys improved immeasurably.  That is not to disrespect Bobick, who was a tough boxer and won most of his bouts.

  54. Eric 02:22pm, 01/21/2014

    Stevenson would’ve done very well in the pro ranks IMO. He was a couple inches taller than Ali & Foreman, and moved pretty good for someone so big. The pre-Foreman Ali would’ve beaten Stevenson more than likely, but the 1972-1974 version of Ali wasn’t unbeatable as Ken Norton proved, so maybe Stevenson could’ve pulled off an upset.  Stevenson would’ve done very well with contenders like Quarry, Lyle, Shavers, Ellis, Bugner, Bonavena, Norton, Young, or even Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes. If Stevenson had met the post-Manilla version of Ali in ‘76 or ‘77, Stevenson wins. I could see Foreman knocking out Stevenson, but if somehow Stevenson could survive big George’s onslaught at the beginning than it would be Stevenson by knockout. Maybe Stevenson was the first talented “super-sized” heavyweight and not Lennox Lewis or Riddick Bowe. With a fading and overweight Ali, and Frazier and Foreman gone by the late seventies, I’m sure Stevenson would’ve captured the title and beat what was leftover from the golden era of heavyweights. By 1977 or 1978, Stevenson would’ve only had to worry about contending with a fat, and rapidly declining Ali, Norton and his suspect chin, an unproven and untested Larry Holmes, neophyte Leon Spinks, one-dimensional Earnie Shavers, and aging contenders like Ron Lyle, etc.

  55. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:32pm, 01/21/2014

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the Gospel of envy, it’s inherent virtue is the sharing of misery”. (Winston Churchill)

  56. nicolas 12:45pm, 01/21/2014

    thanks TED, but I want to say that I have a different interpretation of Reese. No one has ever mentioned this, but when Reese shoots Walker, he seems very remorseful. I will only say that, but you know there are several interpretations of Point Blank, perhaps the greatest existentialistic gangster movie ever made.

  57. Dr. YouTube 09:03am, 01/21/2014

    Nice footage

  58. Ted 07:46am, 01/21/2014

    nicolas , Point Blank is one of my favorite movies. We must not forget Angie Dickenson. Reese was one slimy guy but Walker was one tough dude and that fight scene behind the stage is as good as it gets.

  59. Ted 07:01am, 01/21/2014

    Excellent stuff and daring

  60. George Thomas Clark 10:08pm, 01/20/2014

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06R4UVpkKtg

    Here’s a link to Ali’s 1978 trip to the Soviet Union where he spars two rounds each with the top three heavyweights, ending with Igor Vysotsky.  This is a post Spinks One fight Ali who not in top shape but he and his sparring partners look pretty good.  It’s a treat to hear Ali’s narrations, along with Howard Cosell’s.

  61. George Thomas Clark 09:16pm, 01/20/2014

    Vysotsky was a terrific puncher but his forehead and face were covered with scar tissue from countless cuts.  As a pro this would’ve severely limited his progress.  One of the best amateur fights I’ve seen to this day was Jimmy Clark v. Vysotsky.  Clark busted him up and won by TKO.  Though Jimmy Clark was generally not as good as Stevenson, in one of their he, nationally televised, he staggered Stevenson and probably would’ve finished him but the Cuban referee repeatedly stopped to fight to warn him for doing bad things - specifically, pounding Teofilo Stevenson.  No way Teo beats Ali 1975 or earlier or a prime Holmes.

  62. nicolas 09:02pm, 01/20/2014

    that he had major problems, I am not surprised, when a man dies so young. He never seemed like a very nice person. When he beat Duane Bobick in 72, I remember him kind of grabbing Bobick, and rudely turning him to go to shake hands with the Cuban trainers. When he lost to Francesco Damiani in 82 at the world championships he complained that he was robbed. With the success of Cuban fighters today who have defected, or even Richard Abril who is allowed to box by the Cuban government, I very well imagine that he would have been world champion around 1977, having defeated Muhammad Ali. How he would have dealt with Holmes though would have been interesting. Some have felt that Vystotsky might have been bettered suited for the pros also. If one ever gets a chance, see Vystotsky spar with Ali, it is quite interesting. In the end, while some may have lauded his not going to the Professionals, he only really was a whore for the communist government of Cuba. His getting this modest home from Fidel is ironic. John Vernon the actor played Fidel Castro in the movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Topaz. A few years before he had made his first big movie splash in the far better film by John Boorman, Point Blank with Lee Marvin. Vernon played Mal Reese, a man who had betrayed Lee Marvin’s character Walker, leaving him for dead after he shot him. Walker, trying to get the money he feels he is owed, goes to find his former wife Jill, who had run off afterwards with Reese. When Walker is with Jill, she mentions the posh apartment she is living in, Reese having left her. She looks around, and says, “this, payback I guess”. Stevenson could have said the same with his home. Having read how Stevenson ended his life, I think there is a great movie to be made about Stevenson, which would really not be kind to Fidel.

  63. Douglas Gordon Nareau 08:39pm, 01/20/2014

    George Thomas Clark does it again! Another superb article but I think he shortchanges Stevenson. Not many boxing fans will forget Teofilo or his olympic and amateur exploits and I think he would have been a great pro.  Cubans have recently entered our pro baseball ranks and have also had huge successes recently with their smaller boxers like Rigondeaux.  Cubans are gifted athletes and genetically the equal of anything the US or Eastern Europe has had to offer over the past 50 years..

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