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  • 09 / 29 / 2006

Legendary Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson has expressed his satisfaction at the changes to refereeing that were tried out during the World Youth Boxing Championships in Agadir, Morocco.

The new system of refereeing agreed by the International Amateur Boxing

Association (IABA) "was very positive, everything went well, with no problems," Stevenson told the Cuban sports weekly Jit.

On his return to the island, the three-times Olympic heavyweight champion

(1972, 1976 and 1980) explained that during these World Championships, referees were chosen "using technology just minutes before the fight was about to begin."

He also said that whilst they were waiting to go into the ring, "they are in an area without access to other referees participating in the event."

Stevenson is a member of a group of IABA supervisors responsible for refereeing international amateur boxing events, which has been problematic in the past.

The current vice president of the Cuban Boxing Federation warned that "we still have a lot of work to do" and commented that at the event in Morocco "we always detected a few details, such as counting points for punches that were technically non-valid, which even the referees noticed, but on balance it was a truly positive experience."

The 53-year old Cuban was also crowned world champion three times in an era when Mohamed Ali reigned in the world of professional boxing. The possibility of a fight between the two champions was investigated, but never came to pass. However, from that moment, a great friendship was formed between the two men.

Stevenson also praised the six boxers who represented Cuba at the World Championships, of whom five won gold medals: lightweight Rosniel Iglesias,

middleweight Luis Enrique García, super flyweight Alexei Collado, featherweight Yordan Frómeta and welterweight Julio César Iglesias. Also flyweight Albert Portuondo, who won the silver medal.

"They really impressed me, and gave us a lot of confidence because they will be responsible for the next Olympic Games," added Stevenson.

Meanwhile Pedro Roque, the teams principal trainer, stated that "the most important thing was that we won because of good performances and against countries with a strong tradition in boxing, including the other two that finished after us, who also brought complete teams."

Roque explained that his boxers had beaten three Russians - two of them in the final - two Kazakstanis and a Turkish fighter. They also beat two boxers from the U.S. who finished outside of the medal table.

"This has been the reward for two years of hard work, the chance of meeting various teams, whether here or as visitors, and the dedication of the whole team, including those responsible for medical and psychological preparation," concluded Roque.

Cuba, a major force in amateur boxing, finished first at the 2004 Olympic Games with five gold medals and also at the 2005 World Championships with tour titles.

At the World Youth Championships in Añadir, the island knocked out Russia who finished in second place with two golds. Morocco, Ukraine, Hungary and

Romania each finished with one gold and the United States returned home with empty bags. (Roberto Ramírez)

Source: Granma Internacional

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