Teofilo Stevenson, an Olympic boxing legend

He was arguably the most impressive Olympic boxer since Cassius Clay and, like Clay, he carried with him a focus and self-confidence that few could match. He was Teófilo Stevenson from Cuba, and many believe him to be one of the greatest of all Olympic boxers.

Picture by Getty Images

Stevenson, a heavyweight, beat strong opponents in the quarter-final and semi-final of the tournament, impressing with every fight. In the quarter-final, he was losing on points to the American Duane Bobick when the bout reached its third round. Stevenson responded by flooring his well-considered opponent three times, causing the referee to stop the fight.

In the semi-final, he was pitched against the German Peter Hussing, a doughty opponent with many fights behind him, but one who was comprehensively outpointed by the Cuban. The referee stopped the fight in the second round and, when asked later what had gone wrong, Hussing replied: “I've never been hit so hard in 212 bouts.”

The final should have been the pinnacle of his displays, but it turned into something of an anti-climax. Ion Alexe turned up with his hand in plaster and so, instead of showing off his sublime ring-skills again, Stevenson was awarded the gold on a walkover.

Stevenson had shown so much brilliance that it was inevitable that he would be asked to become a professional. He was reputed to have been offered $2m, at the time a truly huge sum of money, but turned it down. Stevenson declared he was a son of the Cuban revolution, and said he had no interest in becoming a highly-paid professional boxer.

Instead, he stated he was more interested in studying, and in revolution. He never changed his mind, although he did find time to defend his Olympic title in both 1976 and 1980. He missed the 1984 Games because of Cuba's decision to boycott the Los Angeles Olympics although, earlier that year, he did fight and beat Tyrell Biggs, the American who would go on to win the Heavyweight gold.