“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler was one of the most fearsome boxers of his era. In a series of epic battles, Hagler mowed down some of boxing’s best talent and ended his career in what is still one of the most contested decisions in the sport’s history.
Marvin Nathaniel Hagler was born May 23, 1954, in Newark, New Jersey. After the riots that ravaged Newark in the late ‘60’s, Hagler and his family relocated to Brockton, Massachusetts, the same city heavyweight boxing legend Rocky Marciano was born. A 9th grade dropout, Hagler began working odd jobs and got involved in minor crime until he happened upon a local gym.
After a solid amateur career and capping an Amateur American Union 165-pound division nationals win in 1973, Hagler went pro. The southpaw fighter gained respect from boxing writers for his indestructible chin and long reach. His reputation as a bruising opponent grew with each fight and champions routinely ducked fighting the dangerous pugilist.
In September 1980, Hagler finally captured the elusive middleweight world title from British fighter Alan Minter. According to boxing chatter, Minter allegedly said he wouldn’t lose a title to a Black man, which seemingly fueled the already determined Hagler and he took the belt with a third-round TKO. Hagler would defend his title 12 times over the next seven years and held the second-longest undisputed championship reign in his division.
After battles with the likes of Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and John “The Beast” Mugabi, Hagler would face Sugar Ray Leonard in April 1987 in the “Super Fight” bout. Leonard was a longshot to win after a three-year layoff from the ring and Hagler was sporting an impressive 37-fight win streak. However, Hagler couldn’t put Leonard away and lost the judges with inaction and furious flurries by Sugar Ray.
In the end, the fight went Leonard’s way with a split decision. To this day, many analysts and historians feel that Hagler was robbed because he wasn’t as likeable a figure as Leonard. Bitter over the loss, Hagler retired and resorted to drinking, which led to end of his first marriage. He moved to Italy to become an actor and has resided there ever since with his second wife.
Hagler is an inductee of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame.
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