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NY Fights Crew Shares How The Death of Marvin Hagler Hit Hard

Michael Woods

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Deaths of legends, of icons, those can hit harder than when people you actually know die. It’s because you have strong associations with those legends, usually overwhelmingly positive ones, and thus, their absence strikes you in various places, heart, head, soul. 

The death of Marvin Hagler hit harder than maybe you thought it would, because he radiated strength, he looked good, in his mid 60s, he stayed in good shape, and you figured he’d keep on keeping on for a good long spell. He’s gone now, and that’s sad, but over time, the epic fights and money quotes will drive us to smile.

Here are some thoughts from the NFY crew and extended fam:

Abe Gonzalez shares, from the heart, how and why Haglers’ passing touched him greatly. “This past weekend, we lost a legend in the boxing world,” Abe said. “Marvin Hagler’s fight against “Sugar” Ray Leonard was my introduction to boxing. My father passed away a few months back and that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. My father loved Hagler and he hated Leonard maybe because he also loved Duran and there was always that tension between those guys. I remember parts of that day in 1987 but clearly remember how excited my father was to get the videotape version of the Hagler vs. Leonard fight. It had to be at least 10-15 family members crowded around a small TV in the Seward Ave Projects of the Bronx. We couldn’t afford cable or to pay any type of PPV so that was the only way to watch fights. My father was excited to see the fight and ended up being so upset at the end as he felt Hagler won the fight. He would talk about that fight years after and never believed Leonard won that fight.Marvin Hagler will always be a part of my intro to boxing and his passing is also a reminder of how much I love my father and how passionate he was about the sport. RIP Champ!”

Marvelous Marvin Hagler getting ready for an upcoming bout.

Even inanimate objects were affected by Hagler’s badass aura—the man made speedbags shudder at the prospect of his fists battering them.

How did Peter Carvill react to the news that Marvelous Marvin Hagler left this Earth so abruptly? “Marvin Hagler’s passing caused the world’s attention—singular, focused—to shine on him in a way it had never done before,” Carvill said. “For one of the first times in his life, the focus was on him entirely. But no life or career can be judged out of context, and Hagler’s was in the thick of what was known as the ‘Four Kings’, a deep bank of talent between 147lbs and 168lbs. He did not have the flash of Leonard, the danger of Hearns, or the predictable unpredictability of Duran, and consequently his colours were slightly duller, lesser vibrant than the others. But what he did was build a legacy with his hands, brick by brick, and one at a time: Monroe, Hart, Monroe again, Monroe a third time, Briscoe, Antuofermo, Minter, Antuofermo again, Sibson, Duran, Hearns, Mugabi, Leonard. Hagler was a worker. Everyone respected him for that. In his passing, we have realised that we loved him, too.”

Here are Matt Andrzejewski’s thoughts on Hagler passing on: “I got into boxing as a kid a few years after Marvin Hagler retired,” he said. “Back in the early 90’s of course there wasn’t the easy access to watch old fights as there is today. So my mom use to take me to local video stores to seek out old boxing/wrestling videos. One video store near us had the Hagler-Mugabi fight. I rented it several times and finally one day when I went to go rent it again the manager said I can just have it. To this day I can still rehash every moment of that fight.”

Jacob Rodriguez spoke on the passing of the bald badass from Brockton. “My first introduction to the beauty, science, and violence of boxing all encapsulated in one person was that of Marvelous Marvin Hagler,” Jacob said. “I was nine years old when I first saw Marvin Hagler fight. I grew up in the Bronx, and being an alpha male badass was revered, especially if you could fight. Every block had their badass, a badass that can take a licking and give a worse one in return. For boxing in the ’80s, that block was the middleweight division, and its badass was Marvelous Marvin Hagler.  As a kid, the sheer violent nature of how he handled his business made me revere him. When I got older and learned about his humble beginnings and that his recipe for success was mostly compiled by hard work, determination, and humbleness, he became my role model. Above all his boxing greatness, it was his values and consummate professionalism in and out the ring that left a lifelong impression on me. Thank you, Champ.”

Gayle Falkenthal gave us her three cents: “Marvin Hagler was an unapologetic warrior. Plenty of people would like to sanitize boxing. Not Hagler. Boxing is war re-enacted as sport. It’s an instinctual drive baked into our DNA. For the rest of humanity, we exorcise our demons watching men like Hagler and his foes battle in the ring. It seems ridiculous to me to deny it. Instead, those of us who are boxing fans celebrate it, and its patron saint is Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The first round of his fight against Thomas Hearns is the purest three minutes in sport.”

Vladimir Lik offered some points on the passing of the middleweight fight icon. “They don’t make them like Marvin anymore,” Lik said. “He fought with a chip on his shoulder because few believe he would ever be elite.  He knew he wasn’t the golden boy and it bothered him because he knew he was better. He had a special ability to channel his frustration into his training and become a world champion.  If he were in his prime today I could see him being the most popular middleweight because he really would fight everyone.  He was a special, special talent and those who were growing up in the 80s before Mike Tyson exploded on the scene may have become enthralled in the sport because of Marvin.  They just don’t make them like Marvin anymore. PS: There are certain 160 or 168 pound world champions who only fight once every year or sometimes once every two years because the money isn’t right. Well, they have to live their lives knowing they won’t even sniff Marvin’s success.”

Our man Augustus Tyler IV weighed in with his analysis of the man and his legend. “I started boxing in 1982, after watching Sugar Ray Leonard defeat Bruce Finch,” Tyler said. “Ray retired soon after that. Marvin Hagler and Alexis Arguello filled the void for me, after Ray left. I noticed how obsessed Hagler was with being great. I studied him, watching his fights and training habits. I remember saving money so I could get his monogramed sweatsuit and hat. I became obsessed with him! During the winter, he would do his roadwork at Cape Cod in the freezing cold. So, I would do my roadwork at the crack of dawn, before school. I wanted to be a monster and adopted his moniker “Destruct & Destroy.” Watching his destruction of Hearns seemed to be the pinnacle of his career. I remember him asking Larry Merchant, after he knocked Hearns out, “Am I great now?” Larry said yes. The following year in 1986, he defeated Mugabi in a grueling affair, then lost to Leonard in ’87. In 2011, I visited the IBHOF and got a chance to meet the Marvelous One. I don’t remember what I said to him, I was in awe to be in his presence. I do remember grown men shoving me aside to get his autograph. I had never seen anything like it. Hagler signed everything and was among the last to leave the banquet. He had to be dragged away by his wife. I only got two autographs that weekend, Hagler and Al Bernstein. That banquet was the highlight of the weekend and all my years in boxing. I salute a great champion and man. Rest Easy, Champ!”

Carlos Toro shared his takeaways on the death of the fistic legend. “I was too young to comment on watching Hagler’s fights during his prime, his last fight took place eight years before I was even born,” Toro said. “However, I still recognized just how impressive this man was in the ring. If there was one fighter my father would always tell stories about when I was a kid, it was Hagler. His wars against Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard are just two fights I watched many times growing up and stuck with me throughout my boxing life. Hagler was arguably the greatest middleweight of all time and took on a number of legendary fighters, creating a legacy and resume few fighters hope to even come close to matching. Even if I’ve never got to watch him fight live, Hagler’s death was heartbreaking. He certainly made the sport of boxing a better place.”

Marvin Hagler had several sayings which kept him on track with a finishers' mindset.

“Destruction and Destroy,” “WAR,” “No Mercy.” Hagler had a way with words, he kept it short and not even a snippet sweet when advertising his pre-fight mantras.

George Jolly pondered and then shared his mind’s eye memories of the Marvelous. “Marvin Hagler made his bones facing a string of the hardest middleweights in the world, on the road, in Philly,” George said. “He ended his career with the sequence of Hearns, Mugabi, and Leonard. Two straight up killers and arguably the greatest boxer of a generation. I like to picture him training like a banshee on the Provincetown seashore, bald and menacing. I think he would dig being remembered in that way. Working. Marvin is beloved because he did everything the hard way, by choice. He asked no quarter and none was given. We will never see another like him, he will live forever.”

Glen Sharp shared an element of the Hagler story that stands out for him. “The loyalty Hagler showed to the Petronelli brothers is an inspiration to the ideal of how human beings can carry themselves,” Glen said. “We see it too rarely.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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