Interview with Boxing Champion, Marvelous Hagler

The middleweight fisticuffs legend shares his story

Posted 9/27/20

Forty years ago, on September 27, 1980, Marvelous Hagler began his reign as the undisputed Middleweight boxing champion of the world. At London’s Wembley Arena, in front of a beer-fueled raucous crowd

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Interview with Boxing Champion, Marvelous Hagler

The middleweight fisticuffs legend shares his story


Forty years ago, on September 27, 1980, Marvelous Hagler began his reign as the undisputed Middleweight boxing champion of the world. At London’s Wembley Arena, in front of a beer-fueled raucous crowd that would turn violent, Hagler TKO'd a blood-splattered Alan Minter in the 3rd round to win the Middleweight championship title. For the next 7 years, one of boxing’s most durable chins would defend his belt twelve times against renowned fighters such as Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns, eventually losing it to Sugar Ray Leonard in a controversial split decision.

Having to face more than 50 fighters to finally reach the top, Hagler’s journey to boxing stardom was unusually long and arduous. But with intense self-discipline and a reliable management and training team, the southpaw pugilist broke through the hurdles and challenges to become one of the greatest Middleweights of all time. Sports History Magazine asked Marvelous to look back and share a few thoughts about his career.

You grew up in Newark, New Jersey before your family moved to Brockton, Massachusetts. Tell us a little about your childhood and what drew you to boxing as a youth.

Something was telling me that staying on the street wasn’t an option.

A lot of accomplished fighters make their mark in the Olympics before turning professional. Did you try out for the Olympic boxing team at any point?

Yes, I considered it myself, but at that time medals didn’t put food on the table.

In the early years, you fought locally in the Boston area, including several bouts in the Brockton High School gymnasium. Did they turn that gym into a professional ring just for you?

No, they had other events before the bouts.

As you were coming up in your career, did you have any trainers that you think made a particular difference in your success as a boxer?

Pat and Goody Petronelli stayed with me throughout my career. For me, they were the best manager and trainer and I made the difference. That was the reason why we were called “the triangle”.

You had an interesting regimen of training in Cape Cod during the winter and running outside in army boots. Tell us how that discipline got you into shape.

There are things that you cannot explain, but you need to follow some rules if you want to become a Champion of the World- like eat healthy food, go to bed early, get up early, etc. Being away from everything and everyone- this is what I call sacrifice.

You also had one of the hardest chins in the game. That must be a genetic trait, or is there also a psychological element in being able to take so many hits in the head?

Well, I must say that although in boxing both fighters take punches, I learned to give more than take. Boxing is an art- you have to love it as a Sport, you have to train yourself appropriately. That is what I've always done.

Although you were a highly talented boxer, it took you more than 50 fights to finally reach the title. Why do you think that journey to stardom was so long?

Everybody knows why! At least boxing people know. It would be more appropriate to ask this question to the Boxing Federations. Maybe they have the right answer.

You faced some of the greatest boxers of your era- Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, and many others. Did you approach each one of them with a different strategy?

I think so. I noticed that everyone sees things in a different way. The change always depends on who you're fighting.

Your legendary bout against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 ended in a controversial split decision in his favor. Do you have any regrets or misgivings about that fight?

There is not much to say on my part. Millions of people saw the fight that evening. The word “controversial” already gives a sense of the truth. Maybe one day it will surface

How do you compare today's Middleweight fighters with the ones you faced 35-45 years ago?

You cannot compare yesterday to today. In my era a fighter had to really sweat to have the opportunity to fight for a World Title. Today, after 10 matches you can already fight for the Title. Not only this, they can even choose who they want to fight for  fear of losing! What can I say...everything has changed.

When you look back, what are your most memorable moments in the ring?

I had a marvelous career. All my fights have been and will remain memorable.

You truly were a marvelous fighter. But why did you decide to legally change your name to 'Marvelous'? Do your friends and family call you that today?

Simply because I was and I am marvelous. Everybody calls me Marvelous- even you call me Marvelous!

Other Articles Enjoyed:   A Preacher Boxer Makes a ComebackAn Iconic Photo that Belies the Real Story,  A Good Guy in a Mean Sport


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