We live in a time when writers and fans are saying “what do you think if so and so fought so and so what do you think would have happened? Well, there was a time in October of 1975 when two future Hall of Fame boxers got in the ring wanting to show who was better!
It was the 1975 Pan American Games at Mexico City when team USA took eleven of their best boxers across the border. It would be when heavyweight Teofilio Stevenson of Cuba would win his first Pan Am Gold due to losing to Duane Bobick of the USA in 1972. He defeated future world champon Michael Dokes, of Akron, OH, while another future world champion Trevor Berbick had to settle for a Bronze Medal.
Leon Spinks of St. Louis, MO., lost in the finals of the light heavyweight division to Cuban Rene Pedroso. Chuck Walker , of Mesa, AZ, would settle for a Bronze Medal in the light middlewieght division. Both Spinks and Walker would represent the 1976 Olympic team in Montreal.
Clint Jackson, of Nashville, TN, would be one of three Americans to win a Gold Medal. He defeated Kenny Bristol of Guyana in the welterweight division. Davey Armstrong of Puyallup, WA, would win Gold over Cuba’s Genovefo Grinan in the featherweight division. Both Jackson and Armstrong would make the 1976 Olympic team. Armstrong was also a member of the 1972 Olympic team.
Bernard Taylor, of Charlotte, NC, would lose in the finals to Cuba’s Orlando Martinez, to take home a Silver Medal in the bantamweight division. In the lightweight division Aaron Pryor, of Cincinnati, OH, would lose to Chris Clarke of Canada in the finals taking home a Silver Medal.
In the light welterweight division “Sugar” Ray Leonard, of Palmer Park, MD, would defeat Victor Corona, of Cuba, to win the Gold Medal. Team USA would finish second in the medal count with three gold medals and eight total medals. Cuba won six Gold Medals and eleven total medals.
This writer has done stories on all of the 1976 Olympic team members. Two of them I have talked with personally. That would be Walker and Armstrong about the Pan Am Games. There may have been several times all boxed their teammates for it’s been said Pryor claimed to have knocked Leonard down in a sparring session. In 1975 at the Pan Am Games Leonard and Pryor sparred. “Leonard hit Pryor with left hooks, jabs and uppercuts,”said Armstrong.
“I did see Ray and Aaron spar on more than one occasion and it was like watching a chess match. Though Aaron was definitely the better slugger, Ray was like poetry in motion as always. But few people realize that Aaron could actually “box” really well when he chose to. I honestly don’t remember either man having a clear advantage over the other. All I know is that it was beautiful to watch. I feel honored to have been on top with these guys at such a wonderful time of truly legendary fighters. I sparred with both Ray and Aaron on quite a few occasions and it is great to be able to have those memories,” said Walker.