Marvin Hagler Interview Transcript
by Geoffrey Ciani & Jenna J - (The following interview transcript with Marvelous Marvin Hagler aired on episode 38 of On the Ropes, September 10, 2009)
Article posted on 26.09.2009
Geoffrey Ciani: Okay! We have Marvelous Marvin Hagler “On the Ropes”. How are you doing today, Marvin?
Marvin Hagler: Very good, simply marvelous. (laughs)
GC: Very glad to hear, and for me it’s actually an honor to speak with you because when I was nine years old, the first fight I had ever seen was actually your fight with Tommy Hearns.
MH: Trying to make me feel old now, right? (laughs) I’m sorry..
GC: (laughs) Well I remember thinking at the time, “Wow! Boxing is like the best sport in the world!” And since that was the first fight I saw that made me really become a fan of the sport I was wondering if maybe you could talk about your encounter with “The Hitman” a little bit?
MH: Sure. Well he’s not “The Hitman”, he was “The Hurtman”—no, that’s only teasing, Tom. I believe that Tommy, he was a warrior. I give him a lot of credit because of the fact he came to fight. He came to take away my title, which I think every challenger should be doing. But that fight was so—I can’t explain it myself. I mean, I get chill bumps, too, just thinking about it when you mentioned it. It was war. It was a great fight.
GC: Now, Marvin, I also have on the line the co-host of the show, Nick Powers. Nick?
Nick Powers: Hi Marvin, how are you doing today?
MH: How are you, big guy?
NP: Alright, great. It’s actually pretty fitting that we have you on the show today. Earlier I was out with some of my friends eating at Christo’s in Brockton and I heard that you frequently went there when you were around. My question for you actually is when you fought Alan Minter, you fought him in London and you knocked him out in three rounds to win the middleweight title. Now before the fight, he made a very disparaging comment saying to you that, “No black man was going to take his title”. Did that give you extra motivation when you stepped into the ring that night, especially considering that you were already on his home turf and you were considered an underdog?
MH: Well, you know, I felt as though when you’re away from home you got to fight harder. That is the way that I’ve always been learned and taught, and that’s what I felt. Beyond the fact they never gave me a shot at the title, that was another thing that really—how you say that? The wood on the fire? The fire in the wood! I would say. With Alan Minter, because he was so tall and everything, I respected him as a champion and everything, but once I stepped in the ring I gave no respect to him. I believed that the title was mine, and I went to get what I deserved—which was mine. He was only borrowing it for a little while. I had been to England a couple of times, and as you know, I work for BBC sometimes over there, and I bump across Alan Minter once in awhile. He speaks very good at this moment. I say you got to give these guys a spanking in order for you to get their respect. (laughs)I’m sorry for laughing, but that fight was something that I will never forget. I believe that I am the only champion in the world who was never able to receive my belt inside the ring, because of the fans that were throwing beer bottles, and things, and whatever. I realize that I didn’t understand any of this stuff, and I would say when I dropped to my knees to pray to God and thank him for finally giving me my gift—something that I worked very hard and long for, and was very appreciative of that—and didn’t really know in the surroundings what was going on.
My manager, my brother, and my trainers they all surrounded and me and protected me. A lot of them got hurt by bottles and stuff. I thought it was very rude because I thought it was unsportsmanship-like. I think one thing that, with a fighter, is when you’re growing up or whatever, is that you learn sportsmanship, and I’ve seen a lot of this in baseball, basketball, football. It’s terrible when grown men forget themselves and all the things they learned when they were younger, and basically that’s sportsmanship. At this time, I was the proudest man on this earth, so nothing could faze me. The thing that I talk about once in awhile when I bump into Alan Minter, when the bottles and things were thrown at me, and stuff like that—the boxing game slowed down for many of the fighters that were going into England to fight at that time, because they saw how unruly the fans are. But these fans are like that in soccer—that’s a big thing—and in other sports. That is their nature. As the fight goes, I would say that when I look at that fight, I was really a master of disaster. (laughs)
Jenna J: Alright. Marvin?
JJ: Hi, this is Jenna J, the host of On the Ropes, and we’re very pleased to have you on the show here, and one of the questions that I want to ask you is, with your fight with Sugar Ray Leonard...
JJ: Sugar Ray Leonard.
JJ: In the contract for it, the fight was twelve rounds instead of fifteen. How do you think that played a difference in the fight?
MH: Well, you know, first of all I think that I gave him everything only just to get this guy inside the ring. As a matter of fact I told him that I’d even fight him in his living room because he wanted everything—he wanted the bigger ring, he wanted bigger gloves, I mean, come on! Do you want to fight, yes or no? I had been waiting like four years for this guy. I don’t talk behind anybody’s back, but I feel as though I won the fight and I feel as though that I don’t think there’s any way in the world that you can beat the champion on a close fight decision. I believe that it should go to the champion, which they did to me years ago when I fought Vito Antuofermo, as you know. So they taught me that you cannot leave the man standing, and I’ll tell you something—I came out of that ring with not a scratch on me for the first time out of any of the tough guys that I fought, and I felt that anyone of those guys that fought me, they had the ability and the opportunity to become champion of the world. I’m very satisfied, I’m very happy, and I’m pleased with my accomplishments, because with the Leonard fight, it just showed me that he wasn’t really a champion because a real champion would have gave me a rematch just to show the public that it wasn’t right. If it was me, and the shoe was on the other foot, I automatically felt as though that if you felt as though you got a raw deal, “Okay, let’s do it again!” That’s the way that a real champion is about. Today, you don’t got these real champions.
GC: Yeah, I agree with you on that Marvin and, for what it’s worth, I’ve watched the fight tons of times and every time I’ve scored it, I’ve scored it in your favor.
MH: Well you know what, I’ve threw away five tv’s already. (laughs)
GC: (laughs) On that note, Marvin, you were one of the few fighters in the history of the sport to retire at a young age and actually stay retired. Do you have any regrets about this or are you satisfied with your decision that you made at that time?
MH: No, I believe I hung around for another year hoping Leonard would give me a rematch—which he didn’t—and I felt as though I realized that your life must go on, I’m still young. I believed if I got involved in acting it would take me at least five years to mature in a different field—which I did. As a matter of fact, I have four films that are behind me and I’m looking for another one right now, too. This is great. At least one thing, by making films, you know that it’s not real so it doesn’t hurt as much as getting punched. (laughs)
JJ: Now Marvin, touching quickly on your career, one of the fights you most famous for is your absolute three round war with Thomas Hearns, and I have to ask you, in that ring did you have any doubts that you were going to win that fight when those punches were being thrown?
MH: Well, you know, I think in training camp and everything like that, I think you have to be prepared—for anything that Tommy’s got to do, I can do better. So I believe that with the excitement that was going on, naturally just your ability which we trained for and knowing which way you have to go to your offense and which way you have to go to your defense. I mean, it was a war. He wanted it, and I wanted it more, because I wanted to prove to the world—and I never said that I was the greatest, I said I was the best middleweight champion of all time. And then after the fight, I remember talking with the announcer there, who said to me, “Well Marvin, you really haven’t proved yourself ever as a great fighter.” So I remember after the fight, I said to him, “Well? Now? Am I great now?” He says, “Well Mr. Hagler—Marvelous—I would have to say, you are the greatest.” Ohhhh! I waited for you to say that. (laughs)
NP: Now Marvin, you briefly touched on your training camp for Thomas Hearns. Now you were notorious back in your fighting days for your seclusion and focus when you went into training claiming that you were going to jail because you were secluding yourself from so many things. Now with that being said, would you say that the Hearns fight was the most prepared and the most conditioned you’ve ever felt preparing for a fight, and if not, which fight was the best training camp you ever had?
MH: Well I think I trained for every fight very hard. Peaking is one thing that is important to a fighter—peaking at the right time for the fight. I believe I did that at the right time, but you’ve got to understand—we went on the road for like twenty days, Tommy and myself, and every day I had to look at his ugly face. I mean, after awhile, you’ll get tired at looking at this guy’s face. There’s only one way to get rid of it, and that’s just to destroy him. (laughs)
MH: But Tommy was bad, too. Tommy says to me, “You know what I’m going to do to you?” I said, “What are you going to do to me?” He said, “I’m gonna knock your bald head off.” I said, “Oh yeah? That means you’re going to come to fight, that way, I can get paid. (laughs)
GC: Marvin, you touched on it awhile ago—I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the acting thing?
MH: The acting I think it started, basically, for me getting involved with the commercials like Pizza Hut and Coca-Cola and all these things here, and I realized that first of all, what I got to do is pay attention to my game first—that was boxing. The acting part would come afterward. Even my trainer commented on it, he said, “I’ll tell you something, Marvin. I felt as though that you got punched good looking, so maybe that’s why you do—I think you have a good shot at becoming an actor.” And the worst thing is if you fail, but I think that I wanted to put the same ingredients which I did in my boxing—is to put the sacrifice and the devotion in trying to learn a different career. It took time, and I felt very good and I’m very pleased at how my acting became very good.
JJ: Yeah, that’s great to hear. Now Marvin, touching on your career a little bit, is there any particular fight that you wish that you had in your career that you were never able to get?
MH: Well, I don’t think so. I think we fought all the best in the world. I gave everybody an opportunity to dethrone me. But I think that basically, down the line, I would like to have fought probably Carlos Monzon. We had that in the works many years ago, and at the time it wasn’t big money—it was like $250,000. I mean, now, these guys are making millions of dollars. But for me, I thought Carlos was a great champion and I think that I would have created a lot of problems for him.
NP: Well Marvin, you briefly touched back after your draw with Vito Antuofermo, that you felt that in order to win when you’re not fighting at home that you can’t leave your opponent standing. Now, your fight with Roberto Duran lasted all fifteen rounds and it was very closely contested until you took it away in the last three rounds. Can you describe a little bit about how you felt in that fight and where you would rank Duran amongst other fighters you’ve had the opportunity to stand in the ring with?
MH: Well, basically, I will tell you this: I will give Duran, I will give Tommy Hearns, and I will give Mugabi the more respect because these guys came to take away my title. Not like a Leonard who ran like a little girl—excuse my language, I’m sorry. They didn’t just try to survive and not to win the fight, I really couldn’t see that. But Roberto Duran, I enjoyed fighting him, because of the fact here’s a three time world champion who had a lot of skills, and for me to take away all of his adversaries in a sense, and to be able to come back with something of myself and to show him—that’s why I am here, because I am the middleweight champion of the world, and there’s no way that you’re going to take my title. Not unless you hit me with that ring post, because that’s the only way I’m going out.
JJ: Now Marvin, we were touching on your career a little bit, but I have a question for you, which is, how do you think a prime Marvin Hagler would do in today’s middleweight division with the Kelly Pavliks and the Paul Williams—these very tall middleweights?
MH: Well you know what? That’s the reason why again, too, that I retired, because you got a bunch of young boys all coming up at the time, and I see that it doesn’t make any sense for me to embarrass myself. You want to go out on top, I think like every great champion does, but you don’t want to embarrass yourself. So I don’t think that these guys had the qualities that I had. I don’t think they are as hungry as I was, so I think I would have did very good, but I wanted another future, and that’s what I’ve been working on, for like I said, with the acting.
GC: Now Marvin, you were the number one ranked middleweight for many years before you got your shot at the title, and during that time, you had to endure watching less deserving fighters get shots at the title instead of you. Can you describe how that felt to you during that time and what kept you so hungry and so driven to keep going?
MH: Like I said, they put the wood in the fire because you still have to keep that desire and you still have to keep your hopes and your dreams alive. Basically there was nothing that was going to stand in my way. I enjoyed the second Antuofermo fight when I did to him what I should have done in the first fight. But, when you get the opportunity for the title, that was such a big thing. A lot of fighters in the world, they don’t get a shot—that was my fiftieth fight. I’m looking at a lot of these young boys today—I just seen a guy who was the undisputed champion win the other night, and he’s only got twenty-four fights. These are the things that bother me. It’s not the fact that these guys got titles, or whatever, it’s the fact that they’re winning the titles so easy, and the whole thing what I hate is that I don’t like this fight game because it’s got too many champions and the public, they’re being denied, because they don’t really know who the real champions are today.
JJ: Now Marvin, we don’t want to keep you on the phone too long…
MH: Can I just talk about my new—because I’m excited about this…
JJ: Sure, go ahead. Please.
MH www.marvinhagler.com Listen, I got some nice perfume out there and it’s for men—I’m sorry, but it’s for men. It’s very good. I just want you to guess what the name might be?
JJ: What’s the name? Marvelous, right?
MH: She’s close, she’s close.
JJ: What is it?
MH: Simply Marvelous! (laughs)
JJ: Love it, love it! Absolutely love it.
MH: Also, we got a new t-shirt that’ll be out next week, so fans look forward to that, too.
JJ: My final question for you is, Marvin, is there anything you want to say to all the Marvin Hagler fans out there, to the people who supported you through your career, and now, after your career?
MH: Oh, I love them! And let me tell you something, the fans that can love me today after 20-something years, it feels like it’s yesterday. Some of the people remember the fights like yesterday, and the only thing that I hate is when kids come up to me now and say, “Ahh! You grew up with my grandfather!” (laughs)
JJ: Well it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show, Marvin, and we wish you the best in all your new endeavors, including “Simply Marvelous” which can be found at marvinhagler.com.
MH: That’s going to be great, but I want to say one thing else, too. Listen, I have a Marvelous Marvin Hagler scholarship fund in Massasoit Community College—which I’m very proud about, because we send 2,500 kids to college this year, which I am very proud of. But I enjoyed being on your show and talking with you guys, and I hope to be on your show again next time, and to all my fans out there, stay with the Marvelous One. I love you, and just stay with the kid.
JJ: Thank you very much for being on the show.
MH: Thank you, my pleasure
For those of you who missed the episode and would like to listen to it in its entirety, CLICK HERE. (If you just want to listen to the Hagler interview, it starts at approximately 52 minutes and 10 seconds into the show).
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