Interview with Boxing Champion, Marvelous Hagler

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

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Interview with Boxing Champion, Marvelous Hagler


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


Fall 2020

Summer 2020

Spring 2020

Winter 2020


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Shop For Our Books & DVD's



View larger Puzzle archive


10 years ago

GOLF October 10, 2010  Mark O’Meara wins the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, firing 273 (-7) in the private golf course TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. The event is one of five majors in the 26-event Champions Tour, now known as the PGA Tour Champions. In his previous PGA Tour career, O’Meara claimed the Masters Tournament in 1988 and the Open Championship a decade later in 1998. He reached the #2 World Ranking in September of that year.

20 years ago

MOTOR RACING October 8, 2000  F1 driver Michael Schumacher places first at the Japanese Grand Prix. With just one race left on the calendar, his aggregate points already landed him at  the top of the World Driver’s Champion podium. Piloting for Scuderia Ferrari Marlborough, the German-born speedster won his 3rd title and the 1st of what would be 5 consecutive victories. With 7 championships to his name, Schumacher remains the most successful driver to date in F1 history.

30 years ago

FOOTBALL October 14, 1990  Quarterback Joe Montana sets a 49ers record by throwing 476 yards and for 6 touchdowns in a single game against the Atlanta Falcons. Jerry Rice, his receiver in the waiting, catches 5 of those passes and scores 30 points for a franchise record as well. At season end, San Francisco topped the NFC with a 14-2 record, losing only to the LA Rams and New Orleans Saints. They went on  to claim the Divisional at the playoffs, but lost the Conference to the Giants.

40 years ago

BOXING October 2, 1980  38-year old Muhammad Ali comes out of a 2-year retirement to face off against Larry Holmes, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. The bout takes place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with an estimated 2 billion TV viewers tuning in from around the world. Ali had already shown signs of stuttering and shaking, but was declared fit for the challenge. Holmes dominated the fight in every round, defeating Ali in the 10th with a TKO.