By Ken Reed
One of the greatest boxers of all-time, Teofilo Stevenson, passed away recently with little fanfare at the age of 60. Stevenson was a three-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba in 1972, 1976, and 1980. He might have won a fourth if Cuba hadn’t boycotted the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Boxing observers like Howard Cosell and Don King believed Stevenson would have been world champion, or at least in the same class as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
“Stevenson would have been phenomenal,” said King.
Despite his recognition as one of the best heavyweights — amateur or pro — of all-time, Stevenson is known as much for his sportsmanship and principled stand against commercialism and professional boxing as he is for his Olympic accomplishments. Over the course of his career, Stevenson turned down millions of dollars to turn professional. Stevenson was compared favorably to Ali, and promoters tried to set up a multi-million dollar fight between the two. Stevenson turned it down to stay true to the Cuban credo of amateurism.
“I will not leave my country for one million dollars or for much more than that,” said Stevenson. “What is a million dollars against eight million Cubans who love me?”
Cubans anointed Stevenson a national hero for his accomplishments in the ring and adherence to a strong set of principles. Stevenson once said that the millions of dollars going to boxers would be better spent on children, education and medical care.
“Someone once asked Ali what would have happened if we had fought,” Stevenson once told the Washington Post. “and he said it would be a draw. I think that’s right. It would’ve been a draw.”
One thing’s for sure, both Ali and Stevenson were athletes with a strong conscience.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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