Teofilo Stevenson, the three-time Olympic gold medal heavyweight champion who helped Cuba become an amateur boxing power, died Monday in Havana. He was 60.
The cause of death was a heart attack, according to Cuban media.
Stevenson’s gold-medal winning performance in the 1972 Olympics paved the way for Cuba’s dominance in the sport the next four decades. His run to the gold medal included a third-round knockout win over American and tournament favorite Duane Bobick in the quarterfinals.
In the 1976 Summer Games, Stevenson ended another American heavyweight’s Olympic gold medal hopes with his semifinal first-round knockout win against John Tate. Stevenson won his second Olympic gold medal, stopping Romania’s Mircea Simon in the final.
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Stevenson again represented Cuba in the U.S.-boycotted 1980 Olympics in Moscow. He captured his third gold after a 4-1 decision over the Soviet Union’s Piotrz Zaev in the final.
For Stevenson, a fourth Olympic-gold medal bid ended after Cuba joined the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Stevenson, who also won three world amateur championships, continued boxing until 1986.
Stevenson retired with a record of 280 victories and 22 losses and along with Hungary’s Laszlo Papp and fellow Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon are the only boxers to win three Olympic gold medals.
During the height of Stevenson’s run of amateur championships, promoters attempted to convince the boxer to turn professional and face then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a multimillion dollar bout. But Stevenson rejected the professional offers and remained an amateur.
In 1999, Stevenson was arrested in Miami after an altercation with an airline worker and police at Miami International Airport. Stevenson attempted to cross a checkpoint to board a flight to Havana, when he head-butted the airline employee, according to the arrest report.
Stevenson was charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest with violence. He was released on bail but never returned to Miami to face trial.
In his post-boxing career, Stevenson served as vice-president of the Cuban Boxing Federation. He is survived by two children.