Living legend Roberto Duran celebrates his 70th birthday today.
Born in El Chorrillo, Panama on June 16, 1951 ‘Manos de Piedra’ is regarded as one of the finest fighters of all time. The Undisputed sends its very best wishes to Roberto and our blessings for many more to come.
Roberto compiled a 103-16 record with 70 knockout victories. Most of those defeats came late in his career after dominating the lightweight division in the 1970’s, then moving up to welterweight to defeat Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal in 1980 and later capturing titles in the light-middleweight and middleweight division. His legacy in the sport of boxing is assured not only by his fistic accomplishments but the aggressive ‘take no prisoners’ manner in which he performed in the ring and the legendary stories outside. Legend has it that he once knocked out a horse !
Duran is known as one of the Four Kings – the quartet of fighters including Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas ‘Hit Man’ Hearns who dominated the sport in the 1980’s. Between them they staged some of the greatest fights of all time breaking box office records on an annual basis.
Roberto fought all three Kings, splitting a trilogy with Leonard (1-2) and losing to Hearns and Hagler. The latter was by a close albeit unanimous decision in 1983 when the ‘Marvelous One’ pulled away in the late rounds. Duran won the night though performing way beyond his natural weight class and still spitting venom at the final bell.
His zenith was in defeating a peak Sugar Ray Leonard in a 15 round superfight in the Olympic Stadium, Montreal by unanimous decision in June 1980. Leonard was the golden boy of the time emerging with his Olympic gold medal to capture the welterweight crown but Duran effectively took him to school the whole night.
Many will recall Duran’s ‘No Mas’ surrender in the return match in New Orleans but he would later gain redemption through stellar victories against Davey Moore at light-middleweight and Iran Barkley at middleweight. He took his solid 9st,9lb (135lbs) frame through the divisions to finally win a world title at 11st,6lb (160lbs) fighting and defeating some of the greatest fighters of all time.
He was forced to retire in 2001 at 50 years of age after injuries sustained in a car accident. The last 20 years have seen him feature as a familiar face at all major boxing conventions and when his career is referred to it is with the eminence befitting one of the Four Kings. Simply a living legend of boxing.
Duran continues to live a happy life in his native Panama surrounded by his family and the trophies from his hall of fame career.
Roberto – Saludos.