Legend Roberto Duran Turned 70 Wednesday
One of the legendary smaller weight fighters of the last 50 years hit a milestone birthday on Wednesday. That’s when “The Hands of Stone,” Roberto Duran, turned 70 years young.
The Hall of Famer Duran was born in poverty, but proudly represented the country of Panama throughout his illustrious career that saw him win World Titles in four different weight classes.
And, it turned him into one of the most prominent fighters in the sports history, as he combined with the likes of: Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the group dubbed as the “Four Kings.”
That quartet is being featured currently in a tremendous Showtime Network docu-series known slightly shorter, as “The Kings.” We recently spoke on the Big Fight Weekend podcast with the director of the series, Mat Whitecross, who talked to us at length about interviewing Duran and his impact and influence not only in the United States but obviously in his home country of Panama.
Hear our conversation by clicking below,
Duran rose to fame out of the streets of Panama City to become the Undisputed Lightweight World Champion in the 1970s and became known as one of the most fearsome brawling, tough fighters to go against. Arguably, the biggest moment in a ring in his life came though as a Welterweight. That’s, when he upset previously unbeaten, American media darling Sugar Ray Leonard in a 15-round decision in June of 1980.
That victory gave Duran the Undisputed Welterweight Crown to go along with having previously been Undisputed Lightweight champion. That was the first time any fighter had ever done both.
However Duran’s epic night in Canada was short-lived, when a few months later Leonard embarrassed him and broke him psychologically into quitting in their “No Mas” fight in the New Orleans Superdome.
From then on Duran rarely came out on top in the biggest fights. That included losing a decision to Wilfred Benitez challenging for the WBC 154 lb. crown in January of 1982. And, then he dropped his next fight to England Kirkland Lang later that year.
Duran did rebound and win a portion of the Junior Middleweight World Championship with an eighth-round stoppage of New York’s Davey Moore at Madison Square Garden in 1983. However, he lost in a 15 round challenge for the Undisputed Middleweight Championship later in November of 1983 to Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Duran in moved back down in weight and Hearns destroyed him with a second round, one-punch rocket right hand KO in the Vegas Summer. That anniversary from 1984 comes every year the day before Duran’s birthday.
Duran recovered from that and went on to win a fourth world title moving back up to Middleweight, when he beat American Iran Barkley in New York by split decision in February of 1989. Leonard later beat him in the third fight of their series, again by 12 round decision in December of that year.
He amazingly continued to fight until nearly 50 years of age in 2001 until a serious car accident hospitalized him and ended his career.
Duran commemorated his 70th birthday on social media here
Buenas tardes familia. Hoy quiero darle gracias a Dios por permitirme cumplir 70 años de vida junto a mis seres queridos. Gracias a todos ustedes que se han tomado un tiempo de sus vidas para mandarme sinceras felicitaciones. Me han alegrado el día con todos su mensajes. 👊🏻🇵🇦 pic.twitter.com/TAL7VPddMi
— Roberto Durán (@robertoduranbox) June 16, 2021
The Panamanian hero also overcame a bout with Covid 19 that required hospitalization in his home country last year. He is still revered to this day, nearly 50 years after his first world title fight.
Duran was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.