Marvelous Marvin Hagler Says Life Is ‘Better’ After Boxing
Thirty years after he retired following his controversial loss to Sugar Ray Leonard, the boxer is enjoying his next act
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler first claimed the world middleweight title in 1980, successfully defended the belt in 12 bouts, and then met Sugar Ray Leonard in Las Vegas on April 6, 1987. The pair went 12 arduous rounds before Leonard was named the victor in a split decision so disputed that one of Hagler’s managers said a judge “should be put in jail,” and Nevada’s district attorney’s office seriously considered that option, spending a month on a criminal investigation into score-fixing allegations before finding no wrongdoing.
For nearly a year, Hagler angled for a rematch, but Leonard refused until three years later, at which point Hagler was out of the sport, out of the country, and into another profession, having moved to Milan to become an actor. He rejected Leonard’s offer, even for a $15 million guarantee (in 1990 dollars, no less). Hagler never fought again and has said that he never once donned boxing gloves or trained in the gym again.
Now, as this week marks 30 years since the Leonard fight and Hagler’s abrupt retirement, the boxer answered a few questions from Vocativ’s False Start, bemoaning that he gets typecast for acting roles, saying he has no regrets about walking away when he did, and reveling in being able to carbo-load guilt-free.
False Start: How has your acting career gone? Favorite roles?
Marvin Hagler: “I must say that there are proposals but unfortunately they are always boxing films. My interest is to participate in another type of movies, such as action adventure or maybe a lawyer or doctor role!! I hope producers or casting will give me other opportunities with different roles. My experience with the few films I made, such as Indio I, Indio II, Virtual Weapon, was that people liked them, so I think I can do more. I’m ready for the opportunity!”
FS: How is your life in Italy these days? Thoughts on the state of affairs in the U.S.?
MH: “Actually, I do not live in Italy but I go there often . My work takes me around the world and therefore between America and Italy I’m always on the road. You ask me what I think of the political situation in the US? I am a Sportsperson, so I am not interested in politics…. But I have to say that politicians have forgotten the sacrifices that we citizens have made and continue to make today to have a decent life. If everything goes wrong because the politicians are not doing their job well, we citizens as usual will pay the consequences.”
FS: Do you have any regrets about walking away from boxing when you did?
MH: “No, not at all. I enjoy my life better. I no longer have to get up early. I can eat pasta! I can exercise when I want. My journey in boxing was hard and now I enjoy my life.”
FS: Now that it’s been 30+ years, when you think back to your famed fights against Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, what do you remember most? (Note: The 1985 Hearns bout, which Hagler won, is routinely called the “Greatest Fight Ever” and worth a watch.)
MH: “I had a wonderful career, I fought the best in the world. I cannot complain. It’s a good memory.”
FS: How do you feel about the state of boxing now?
MH: “There are many changes. I was recently at the WBC convention. We are also in a new generation and things are seen and treated more carefully and differently.”
FS: Do you read much about the recent research into concussions and CTE and has that influenced your perspective on the sport at all?
MH: “Yes, I read something about this subject. When a person is an athlete you think the person is full of health, but it is not always the case. There are so many factors to be reviewed individually. It can also be a genetic factor that develops after or just during a sports activity. The talk about it is a good thing, because it means that they are trying to prevent such tragedies and it will be good for all the sport federations to take into consideration what can be done for prevention.”