Felix Savon adapts to coaching

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 11 15:27:22 MST 2002

(People who don't accept the ideology
of capitalism, with its stress on the
imperative of making money and focus
on the primacy of the individual can
simply not understand what motivates
people like Felix Savon, Teofilo
Stevenson. They and so many others
have continued to stay here in Cuba
despite their obvious prospects for
fame and fortune if they would only
sell out for a mess of pottage. The
dollar-denominated culture would give
them big bucks and tout them as role
models for a moment using them for
a flash against Cuba. No one makes
these people do what they do beyond
simple consciousness and patriotism.)

Associated Press
Dec 11, 2002 8:59 a.m.

HAVANA (AP) — The big man at the corner shouts at his boxer,
leaning forward, waving and punching his hands as if he were
in the ring himself.

"It's very difficult for me, but there's no option," said
Felix Savon, the 6-foot-6 (1.96-meter) Cuban champion who
retired from the ring after the 2000 Summer Olympics in
Sydney. International boxing age limits forced his

"When I see the boxers in the ring I feel great nostalgia
and a lot of sadness. I miss boxing so much."

Six times a world amateur champion in the 91-kilo
(200-pound) class, three times an Olympic gold medalist, the
35-year-old Savon now trains other Cuban boxers. With a bit
of training to shed recently added pounds, he probably could
still whip most of the men trying to succeed him.

"I get very tense when I see a man fighting, but I have to
control myself because I transmit my tension and that isn't
good. What a way to suffer! More than when I was active! I
hope that eases with time," Savon said during what Cuban
officials called their "National Olympic Games," which ended
over the weekend.

In Cuba, where boxing rivals baseball in popularity, Savon
is one of the two giants of the sport, along with Teofilo
Stevenson, another multiple champion.

He said he'd had many offers to turn professional - a step
that would have meant leaving Cuba. "I never would have
traded the love and affection of my people for all the
millions in the world," he said.

His two pupils include one of the few men to ever knock him
out, Noel Perez, who beat Savon during a national

"Perez put me out of the fight because of my carelessness,"
he said. "I remember that my sons were present that day at
the Sport City and my oldest son was traumatized. After that
he said he never wanted to be a boxer, that he wanted to
play baseball."

"I tell Perez to keep boxing with the determination he used
to beat me once because that is the secret of his successes.
In sports, you should never give up and even if Perez beat
me once, he has the ability to keep improving."

Perez did not take part in the national festival, but
Savon's other charge, Carlos Duartes, lost a decision in the
71-kilo (156-pound) final to World Cup winner Yohanson

"Duartes is a young man with a good future. He's combative
and isn't afraid of the punches, but he lacks technique and
clarity at the moment of combat," Savon said after throwing
punches in the air from ringside to show his young boxer
what he should be doing.

"Savon is a very demanding trainer," Duartes said. "I have
to be very disciplined, listen to his advice and, well, it's
a big challenge for me because I think that I have to equal
what he did."

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