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Sun, 05.23.1954

Marvin Hagler, Boxer born

Marvin Hagler

*Marvelous Marvin Hagler was born on this date in 1954.  He was a Black professional boxer and film actor.  

Born Marvin Nathaniel Hagler, he spent his early years in the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey.  Following the 1967 Newark Riots, his family moved to Brockton, Massachusetts.  The riots claimed 26 lives and $11 million in property damage was caused, including the destruction of the tenement where his family lived.  In 1969, Hagler took up boxing, he walked into a gym owned by brothers Pat and Goody Petronelli, who became his trainers and managers. As Hagler needed to be 16 in order to enter some amateur tournaments, he lied about his age, saying that he was born in 1952 instead of 1954.  

In 1973, Hagler won the National AAU 165-pound title after defeating a U.S. Marine from Atlanta, GA, Terry Dobbs.  He began his quest for the championship by moving to Philadelphia, PA.  Hagler was a top-ranked middleweight boxer for many years before he fought for the title. He struggled to find high-profile opponents willing to face him in his early years. Joe Frazier told Hagler, "You have three strikes against you, "You're black, you're a southpaw, and you're good."  He often had to travel to his opponents' hometowns to get fights.

His first break came when he was offered on two weeks' notice a chance against Willie 'the Worm' Monroe, who was being trained by Frazier. Hagler lost the decision but the fight was close, so Monroe gave him a rematch. This time Hagler knocked out Monroe in 12 rounds. In a third fight, he defeated Monroe in two rounds.  Boston promoters took an interest in Hagler and began bringing in top-ranked opponents for him to face. He fought 1972 Olympics gold medalist Sugar Ray Seales; Hagler won the first time, the second was a draw and Hagler knocked out Seales in the third fight. Number 1 ranked Mike Colbert was knocked out in the twelfth and also had his jaw broken by Hagler. Briton Kevin Finnegan was stopped in eight. Afterward, Finnegan required 40 stitches in his face.  He dropped a controversial decision to Bobby 'Boogaloo' Watts but knocked out Watts in two rounds in a rematch. Hagler won a ten-round decision over 'Bad' Bennie Briscoe. By then, promoter Bob Arum took notice and signed him.   

His first title fight was against British boxer Alan Minter, who gave Hagler his second title shot. Hagler went to Wembley Arena to face Minter. The tense atmosphere was stoked further when Minter was quoted as saying that "No black man is going to take my title” Hagler took command and his slashing punches soon opened up the cut-prone Minter. Carlos Berrocal halted the fight during the third round to have the four glaring cuts on Minter's face examined. Minter's manager, Doug Bidwell, almost immediately conceded defeat. 

He reigned as undisputed middleweight champion from 1980 to 1987, making twelve successful defenses of that title, and holds the highest knockout percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions, at 78 percent.  Hagler’s fights with Roberto Duran, John ‘the Beast’ Mugabe, and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard was some of the most competitive and entertaining contest of the last century.  In 1982, annoyed that network announcers often did not refer to him by his nickname "Marvelous", Hagler legally changed his name to "Marvelous Marvin Hagler".  While also holding the third-longest unified championship reign in boxing history at twelve consecutive defenses. At six years and seven months, his reign as undisputed middleweight champion is the second-longest of the last century, behind only Tony Zale, whose reign included several years of inactivity during his service in World War II.  

Hagler was an inductee of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He was named Fighter of the Decade (the 1980s) by Boxing Illustrated magazine and twice named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. In 2001 and 2004, The Ring named him the fourth greatest middleweight of all time and in 2002 named him the 17th greatest fighter of the past 69 years.  The International Boxing Research Organization rates Hagler as the 6th greatest middleweight of all time, while BoxRec rates him the 29th greatest boxer of all time, pound for pound.  Many analysts and boxing writers consider Hagler to have one of the most durable chins in boxing history, having been knocked down only once during the entire professional career, and the scored knockdown is still being disputed.  

After the loss to Leonard, Hagler moved to Italy, where he became a well-known star of action films. His roles included a US Marine in the films Indio (1989) and Indio 2 (1991). In 1997, he starred alongside Terence Hill and Giselle Blondet in Virtual Weapon. Hagler also provided boxing commentary for British television. Another foray into the entertainment field included work in the video game Fight Night: Round 3.  Former middleweight southpaw boxer Robbie Sims is Hagler's brother.  Hagler had five children with his first wife, Bertha: Charelle, Celeste, James, Marvin Jr., and Gentry.  Although he owned a home in Bartlett, New Hampshire, Hagler lived in Milan.  

In May 2000, he married his second wife Kay in Pioltello, Italy.  On March 13, 2021, Hagler's wife, Kay, announced that Hagler had died unexpectedly at his home in New Hampshire. He was 66. 

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