David Parkin on a King and a WAG

FAREWELL then Marvin Hagler.

Hagler, one of the best middleweights to ever step through the ropes of a boxing ring, died last weekend aged just 66.

When news of his passing was announced on social media by his wife Kay, memories came flooding back of the epic fights he took part in when he dominated the middleweight division during the 1980s.

Hagler was a throwback who combined a wicked punch in both hands alongside boxing skills helped by a long reach for a man of his height.

Put all of that together with an intimidating aura and you have a great champion.

Shaven headed with an icy stare that the young Mike Tyson would have coveted, he eschewed the flashy accoutrements and entourage of sycophants that often accompanied champion boxers.

His only concession to fame and success was in adding the word ‘Marvelous’ to his name.

I often thought he had spelt it wrong, until I realised that is the American spelling of marvellous.

But I would have never dared raise that with Marvelous Marvin.

He never ducked a challenge and cut his teeth on the American boxing circuit in the 1970s, guided by his longtime trainers and managers Pat and Goody Petronelli.

Hagler always seemed to carry a chip on his shoulder and when you see the circumstances in which he won his title, you can’t blame him.

He overwhelmed Brit Alan Minter in three rounds at Wembley Arena and then had to shelter under the ring as the partisan crowd pelted him with beer bottles.

Perhaps that experience in a British ring is the reason why he clinically took apart another Brit, Leicester left-hooker Tony Sibson, three years later.

But there didn’t need to be any reason to explain Hagler’s aggression and intensity in the ring – he just was.

But that brutal approach in boxing had clearly subsided by the time he came to the end of his career.

He saved his money and retired after his first loss in over a decade, a disputed points defeat by Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987.

Unlike most champions, he never made a comeback and lived a comfortable retirement, mainly in Italy.

If the 1970s were the golden era of heavyweight boxing with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton, then it was the lighter divisions who thrilled in the next decade.

Alongside Marvelous Marvin, there was Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns.

Known as “The Four Kings”, this quartet carved out legendary status with a series of blockbuster battles.

Chief among them was the 1985 Las Vegas clash between Hagler and Hearns which many rate as the greatest ever championship bout.

Watch it on YouTube and it still thrills and sends shivers down your spine.

It only lasted three rounds but the intensity, ferocity and raw aggression generated by these two men was quite incredible.

For me, as a teenage boxing fan, it was Hagler’s next fight that made the biggest impact.

Less than a year after the brutal battle with Hearns, Hagler stepped back in to the Caesars Palace ring to take on John “The Beast” Mugabi, a Ugandan puncher who had won all 25 of his fights inside the distance.

I always used to think that the one thing that let the Rocky movies down were the fight scenes.

Defence was ignored as Rocky threw himself across the ring swinging punches which almost sent the heads of his opponents into orbit.

Watch Hagler v Mugabi on YouTube and it is like a Rocky movie.

Neither man is willing to take a backward step and booming punches are unleashed for 11 rounds until Mugabi’s brash challenge is finally overcome by the uncompromising champion.

A year later, in his 67th and last fight, Hagler lost his title to Sugar Ray Leonard on a disputed decision.

I remember scoring it while watching ITV’s coverage featuring commentary from Reg Gutteridge and Jim Watt and I gave it to Leonard.

But like the judges at ringside, was I influenced by the lightweight flurries of punches from the former welterweight and Olympic champion and the cheering of the Las Vegas crowd rather than the relentless aggression of Hagler?

Who knows, but Marvin never returned to the ring and that has probably helped gild his reputation as one of the greatest middleweight champions in history.

Alongside Harry Greb from the 1920s, Tony Zale and Marcel Cerdan from the 1940s, Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta from the 1950s and Carlos Monzon from the 1970s and Bernard Hopkins from the 1990s, Hagler dominated a decade.

Add modern greats Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin to that group and what a fantasy boxing tournament that would make.

I would hesitate to call the winner, but I’d never bet against Marvelous Marvin Hagler.


LAST week’s piece on football pundit Micah Richards attracted a bit of stick.

Not for him, for me.

I suppose two people who commented to me about him had an advantage over me.

They had actually met him.

I don’t think I was critical of Micah Richards, I just relayed a couple of stories about him.

Someone who has met him in Harrogate told me: “He is a lovely man and when you actually meet him, quite shy. He is also very private and is a fantastic role model for many of today’s youth.”


Then I got a message from Harrogate dealmaker Mark Eardley, who said: “This appears a little harsh on Micah? I have met him a number of times at the Harrogate Club where he is a member.

“He is genuinely not arrogant – in all honesty I would describe him as a really really nice guy.”

Apparently when Mark met Micah at the Harrogate club they had a long conversation about football achievements.

And next time they meet Micah is going to talk a bit about his career.

Well, Stoke fan Mark has told me at length about his footballing prowess and the weekly games of five-a-side in a church hall in Harrogate.

I’m sure Micah was as fascinated and enthralled with them as I was.


STORIES of footballers brought one tale of a footballer’s wife from a contact on the other side of the Pennines.

The story goes that the said other half of a highly-paid Premier League player was looking at a house in the Cheshire village of Prestbury.

The house had a large swimming pool and the lady asked the estate agent how often ‘they’ came to clean it.

Who’s they? Asked the agent.

“The council,” came the reply.

Have a great weekend.

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