Félix Savón

Félix Savón Fabre (born September 22, 1967) is a retired Cuban amateur boxer, who competed from 1980 to 2000. Considered one of the all-time greatest amateur boxers,[2] he became three-time Olympic gold medalist, and the World Champion six times in a row,[3] all in the heavyweight division. In 1988, when he was favored by many to win the gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Cuban government boycotted the event.[4] Savón is particularly known for having rejected numerous multimillion-dollar offers to defect, leave Cuba permanently to fight Mike Tyson as a professional.[5]

Félix Savón
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1987-0319-022, Michael Ernsz, Felix Savon.jpg
Savón (right) in 1987
Real nameFélix Savón Fabre
Nickname(s)Niñote ("Big Kid")
Height6 ft 5 in (196 cm)[1]
Reach82 in (208 cm)
Born (1967-09-22) September 22, 1967 (age 52)
San Vicente, Cuba

Early yearsEdit

Born in San Vicente, in the Guantánamo Province, ring debut for Savón occurred in 1980, in Guantánamo.

Savón's inspiration to become a boxer was his renowned countryman, three-time Olympic champion Teófilo Stevenson[4] (he later was perceived by the Western media as Stevenson's successor[6])


During his career, in which he did not turn professional, he managed a career record of 362–21, with the majority of his losses avenged.[7][8] The only boxers, who got away with knockout victories over Savón unavenged were Soviet Usman Arsaliyev and North Korean Li Dal-Chen, whom he met only once.

He won his first important titles in 1985. At 19 he beat America's Michael Bentt on his way to win the 1987 Pan Am games.[9] Besides winning the Cuban heavyweight title (which he would win each year until his retirement, except 1999 and 2000 when he lost to Odlanier Solís, who he would lose to twice and defeat once in their three meetings), he also won the Junior World Championships in 1985.[10]

This set off his career, in which he would win six World Championships; his victory at the 1997 tournament was the result of the disqualification of an opponent, future professional world champion Ruslan Chagaev (whom Savón had previously beaten), who beat Savón in the final, but was later stripped of the gold medal for having two professional fights prior to the championships.[11] Chagaev was reinstated as an amateur the following year when these fights were declared exhibitions, but did not regain the gold medal.[12]

"He's just a great guy and he deserves everything he's got.

Michael Bennett on Savón.[13]

In 1998 during the Heavyweight final of the Goodwill Games from New York, Savón had an amazing knockout over U.S. Amateur Champion DaVarryl Williamson.[14] At the 1999 tournament, he was to fight American Michael Bennett in the final, but the whole Cuban team retired from the competition to protest the result of another Cuban boxer in the tournament whom they considered had been "robbed" by the judges, meaning that Bennett won the final on default.[15] In their bout at the 2000 Summer Olympics Bennett would lose 23–8 to Savón.[16]

Savón won three Olympic gold medals, a feat shared with only two other boxers, László Papp and compatriot Teófilo Stevenson. He could have been a four-time Olympic gold medalist, had the Cuban government allowed its team to participate in the 1988 Seoul, South Korea.[4]

Savón's critics said that he is a puncher instead of a boxer who is not satisfied with a decision, risking losses by going after knockouts even when he is far ahead on points. Roosevelt Sanders, a U.S. boxing coach, said Savon would have been immediately ranked between 5th and 10th in the world's professional boxing heavyweight division if he turned pro after the 1990 Goodwill Games.[4] "Cuba, since 1974 has been the king of amateur boxing in the world," he said. "That is why the media of other countries keep asking why we don't box professionally. Professionalism will abolish humanism and society." Savon said amateur athletes are revered in Cuba. "Athletes are the most important thing in Cuba since Castro took over. We practice sports from the age of 8."[17]


Retirement and later lifeEdit

Savón announced his retirement from the ring, but helped train Cuba's fighters for the 2004 Athens Olympics.[18] After winning his third Olympic gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Savón announced his retirement at age 33.[19]

In February of the following year with Fidel Castro also present, Savón had the song "You Love Us" dedicated to him by the Manic Street Preachers, who became the first western rock band to play in Cuba.

In 2018, Savón was arrested amid accusations that he had raped an underage boy.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Olympic Bio: Felix Savón". cnnsi.com. Sports Illustrated. April 7, 2000. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  2. ^ "Savon makes boxing history". BBC News. 30 September 2000. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  3. ^ Golden hat-trick for battered Savon, Kingston Gleaner, October 1, 2000, p. 29.
  4. ^ a b c d Cuban Heavyweight (Associated Press,) St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 3, 1990, p. 22.
  5. ^ Butler, Brin-Jonathan (2014). A Cuban Boxer's Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro's Traitor to American Champion. Picador.[page needed]
  6. ^ Goodwill (United Press International,) Detroit Free Press, July 29, 1990, p. 40.
  7. ^ "Felix Savon - Olympics Athletes - 2008 Summer Olympics - Beijing, China". Sports.espn.go.com. ESPN. 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  8. ^ "Felix Savon Amateur Boxing Record". Boxing-Scoop.com. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  9. ^ Moran, Malcolm (21 August 1987). "Savon of Cuba Dominates Bent". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (3 August 1990). "A Punching Patriot From Cuba". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  11. ^ "Sorry". Indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-12-21.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Padgett, Tim (11 September 2000). "Felix Savon". TIME. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  13. ^ Just happy to be free: Once jailed, American boxer Bennett can't complain after quarterfinal loss By Tim Dahlberg (The Associated Press,) Doylestown Intelligencer, September 27, 2000, p. 22.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-23. Retrieved 2016-11-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)[dead link]
  15. ^ "PLUS: BOXING - WORLD AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIPS; Cubans Withdraw In Angry Protest". Associated Press. 27 August 1999. Retrieved 2012-12-21 – via Nytimes.com.
  16. ^ Pennington, Bill (26 September 2000). "Sydney 2000: Boxing: Savon Is Easy Winner Over Benett". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  17. ^ Victorious Cuban Heats Up Cold War by Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News, August 2, 1990, p. 63.
  18. ^ "PLUS: BOXING; Cuban Champion To Become a Coach". Reuters. 7 January 2001. Retrieved 2012-12-21 – via Nytimes.com.
  19. ^ "Felix Savon". CNN.com. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  20. ^ "Olympic Boxing Legend Felix Savon Accused of Raping Boy, 12, in Cuba". Sputnik. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  21. ^ Castillo, Elisinio (8 November 2018). "Felix Savon in Jail, Allegations of Sexual Assault of a Minor". Boxing Scene. Retrieved 15 November 2019.

External linksEdit