Born: May 23, 1954
Marvin Nathaniel Hagler was born May 23, 1954 in Newark. Raised by a single mother, Marvin was 13 when the city exploded in the summer of 1967. After six days of rioting, the Haglers had nowhere to live—their building had burned during the unrest. The family moved to Broxton, Massachusetts. There he was introduced to the sport of boxing. A wiry, 5'8" lefthander, he was a dangerous mix of speed and power.
In 1973, at age 18, Marvin won the national AAU crown at 165 pounds. He fought his first pro bout a few days before his 19th birthday and knocked out his opponent in the second round. Fighting as a middleweight mostly in and around Boston during the 1970s,
Marvin ran his record to 46–2–1 before finally earning a title shot against Vito Antufermo in 1979. The bout went 15 rounds and was called a draw, although most experts agree that Marvin won the fight. Antifurmo went on to lose the middleweight crown to Alan Minter, and in September 1980 Marvin beat the Englishman at Wembley Arena to become WBA and WBC champion.
Over the next five years, Marvin successfully defended his title against a string of talented boxers, including Antifurmo, Mustafa Hamsho, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and John Mugabi. Marvin actually trailed in the Duran fight, but made a furious comeback in the final four rounds to outpoint the Panamanian star. The first round of the Hearns fight might have been the best ever, as the two fighters beat each other to a pulp. Hearns broke his hand during the three-minute flurry and the fight ended in the third round.
Marvin had slowed down at this point, having gone from a cat-quick boxer to more of a stalking puncher. Many thought he would retire after beating Mugabi, but he took one last fight against Ray Leonard, who was returning to the ring after a three-year retirement. The fight see-sawed back and forth, with Leonard taking the early rounds and Marvin landing pig punches in the middle rounds. Marvin had a chance to win in the 9th, but Leonard survived and took the late initiative. Both fighters believed they had won when the bell sounded at the end of the 12th round, but Leonard was named the winner on a split decision.
Marvin asked for a rematch, but Leonard chose to retire. Uninterested in fighting anyone else, Marvin retired, too, making it official in 1988. He moved to Milan, Italy and found work in action films.