Years ago Roberto Duran and his son were in Atlantic City for a Don King blockbuster card, which featured several heavyweight title fights.
The younger Duran told me a humorous story about when his dad met, or rather, was forced to meet Fidel Castro in Cuba.
“My father was obligated to go meet Fidel Castro after he finished fighting Esteban DeJesus in the rematch,” said Duran. Fidel wanted to meet my father. One of Fidel’s generals sent for my father to go to Cuba. My father didn’t want to go.”
When a person receives an invitation from a head of state it would not be the wisest or most diplomatic gesture to turn it down. Obviously, Fidel Castro was an enormous admirer of Roberto Duran and so the Panamanian hero decided to go to Cuba in 1974 shortly after his knockout win over DeJesus in Panama.
Duran enjoyed the luxury of Castro’s “palace” and as one would expect, the conversation turned to boxing. “Fidel Castro asked my father what his opinion towards the fight Muhammad Ali vs Teofilo Stevenson would be? My father said that Ali would kill Stevenson. Fidel disagreed and said Stevenson would win.”
The two world-renowned figures engaged in a verbal sparring match. “My father said, No, Ali would bust Stevenson’s ass. Because Stevenson fought four or five rounds and he was already exhausted. And Ali was used to fighting fifteen rounds. Ali was a professional.”
The argument between Roberto Duran and Fidel Castro was unofficially declared a draw.