The 30th anniversary of one of the most-talked-about contests of all time took place last week, and to mark the celebration, promoter Bob Arum recalled the enigma that is Marvin Hagler.
Hagler was defeated by Sugar Ray Leonard in a 1987 battle via split decision, which Arum has labelled one of the worst scoring decisions he can remember.
A scorecard of 118-110 was the main bone of contention in a fight that was razor-close and had fans all over the world on the edges of their seats.
Below, Arum answers questions on Hagler and gives an update on where the boxing legend currently resides:
Did they not really like each other?
BOB ARUM: No. No No. Marvin could not do a fight unless he got himself into a position where he disliked the opponent. He would put a picture of his opponent up on his bedroom wall so that he would glare back at it. To motivate himself he was the kind of fighter that had to create a dislike for his opponent. Now the guy he really hated, when he fought him, was Hearns. Because when we had them on a tour, Tommy got under Marvin’s skin. But Marvin was disdainful toward Ray because he believed Ray had it so easy in boxing and that he, Marvin, had struggled so hard, but it wasn’t the same kind of hatred that he had for Tommy. I must say that now, many years later, these guys are great friends.
Why did Hagler quit after the fight?
BOB ARUM: Well, he wanted to quit after the Hearns fight – and I want these fighters to hear this. Then we got him to fight Mugabi, then he didn’t want to go any more – he didn’t want to fight Ray Leonard and what happened was, I remember driving through the night with Pat Petronelli, Hagler’s manager, from Boston to New Hampshire where Hagler had a house. We went through fog and everything. I waited and Pat started talking to him and Marvin was banging his hands on the table and afterwards I asked Pat ‘what was that about?’ He said well, I said to Marvin, my brother Goody, who is Hagler’s trainer, we were getting a third of his purse, and we would cut it down if he would take this fight, and he banged the table, Marvin did and said ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fight this punk, but if I do you better take one third.’ He was a hell of a guy, Marvin – he is a hell of a guy. Ray was great too. Ray, Tommy, Roberto – those four guys are examples for all fighters. They were terrific fighters and terrific people.
Ray had an outgoing personality and a million-dollar smile to match. How was Hagler?
BOB ARUM: Hagler was the polar opposite. He was relatively introverted. He didn’t show his emotions particularly but I got to know him over the years extraordinarily well and he was a real man and he was the kind of guy that if you were in a war and in a foxhole you would want to be with a Marvelous Marvin Hagler. But he didn’t affect the personality – that really wasn’t him. He was true to himself. In other words, he would never have the personality of a Sugar Ray Leonard or even try to have that personality. He always was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Ray – that personality was natural. If you speak today to Ray, it is the same bubbly smile and the same personality many years later. So these two guys were true to themselves.
Where are they now?
BOB ARUM: Hagler is still in Italy and has an Italian wife. Listen you guys – this is for the young guys, for the fighters – Marvelous Marvin Hagler never spent 5 cents in a casino. All the time I knew him he never bought me a meal. Every dollar that he made he put away in the bank so that when he retired he had all the money that he would need for the rest of his life. He kept that money and he lived off the interest and also money that he got for speaking engagements and so forth. He is a wealthy man today because he was so frugal with his money. As Shakur said, he was born in Newark, went to Brockton, Massachusetts, in New England. New Englanders have a reputation for being frugal and he had an accountant that looked after his money. He was very conservative in his investments. Today he is a very wealthy guy and he enjoys himself in Italy and comes out from time to time to make speeches at conventions or boxing dinners and he never missed a Hall of Fame induction – he is just that kind of guy. Sugar Ray invested extraordinarily wisely. He is a very well to do guy. He is very active in charities. He lives a very good life. He has a wonderful family and I must say that both of these guys are extraordinarily happy people as their lives have turned out.
BOB ARUM: Ray does broadcasting from time to time, as a lark, because he is into other things. He plays a lot of golf but he is very active in charitable endeavors.
Does Marvin still act?
BOB ARUM: Well, he is getting to an age where he can’t play the gangster as well. I don’t know when they made their last ‘spaghetti western’ as they call it in Italy, but to listen to him speak Italian is hilarious. He speaks it with this American accent and it’s really funny.