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September 30, 2000
Super Savon does the 'trickThe Rediff Team
Felix Savon -- then a wannabe-rower -- lay down in a grassy field in native Havana, staring up at the stars. Pondering the advice of a coach in the Cuba Sports School that he was better suited to the boxing ring. Pondering, too, his mother's threat that if the young Felix took up a violent sport, he would not be allowed to cross the threshold of his home again.
Today, the door to the Savon family home will be wide open, awaiting the arrival, in triumph, of only the second boxer in history to have won three consequtive Olympic golds in the same weight category, and only the third boxer in history to win three Olympic golds.
Savon's outfought Russia's Sultanahmed Ibzagimov 21-13 in the final to emulate countryman and idol Teofilo Stevenson, who won heavyweight golds in 1972, 1976 and 1980.
Hungary's Lazslo Papp had won middleweight gold in 1948 and the light middleweight titles in 1952 and 1956.
The tall, imposing Cuban was on song today. Boxing with a seeming disdain for his opponent, stepping up the pace at will or chosing to dance around the periphery of the ring when the mood took him, he scored points in steady succession, in a clinical demonstration of high quality boxing.
Having made sure of his title in the first three rounds, Savon in the final round displayed the arrogance of a champion glove-man as he teased his opponent, dropping his guard, leaving his gloved fists hanging at his side and yelling, 'Come on, hit me!' at his opponent.
The Russian obliged with a quick uppercut that opened a cut below Savon's eye with 14 seconds to go in the final round. Savon punished the presumption with a swift one-two, then danced out of reach and through to the final bell, before raising both arms high overhead in a gesture that was half celebration, half salute.
History had been made, and Savon had joined the pantheon of Cuban boxing legends.
Cuba won four gold medals today with bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux, quicksilver lightweight Mario Kindelan and middleweight Jorge Gutierrez also winning their finals.
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