Roberto Durn: Fighters would take one look at me and crap in their pants

Roberto Durn, the onetime nature boxing endorse nicknamed Hands of Stone, has fond memories of a hell-raising busines but is happy with the calmer life he guides now

On a Saturday evening in Leeds, in an anonymous inn where he glimmers and hollers out hello to a extend waitress who recalls his ripple cheerfully, Roberto Durn obstructs controlling my limb and cackling. The 65 -year-old Panamanian, who was a renowned nature endorse at four different weights and boxed professionally in five separate decades, is in a jovial mood while reliving his times as the most menacing fighter on the planet.

When he pushed Sugar Ray Leonard for the first time, on 20 June 1980 in Montreal, Durn transfixed some of his intimidating predecessors. Joe Frazier, the onetime nature blue-chip endorse who had pushed three brutish debates against Muhammad Ali, looked at Durn.

Does he remind you of anyone, Frazier was requested at ringside.

Yeah, the old-time blue-chip mentioned, thinking of a mass-murderer. Charles Manson.

Durns venerable instructor, Ray Arcel, fed the glamour. Three dates before the fight Durns ECG disclosed an erratic heartbeat. That cant be true, Arcel deadpanned. Durn doesnt have a heart.

Durn smiles as he remembers his great victory over Leonard propagandizing to one side the facts of the case that, five months later, the render stint would unleash one of boxings deepest disputes and his own shame. The first blunder Leonard uttered was to request Montreal as the venue because he foresaw everyone would adore him, Durn says.

Leonard had earned amber for the USA at the Montreal Olympics four years earlier and, with his good looks, fast charisma and perfect 27 -0 enter, “the worlds” welterweight endorse was assured$ 8m to defend his deed. Durn, who had earned 71 of his 72 battles, would deserve a much smaller pocketbook of $1.5 m but he had the clevernes to get inside Leonards head.

I was much smarter than Leonard. He foresaw people would support him as the golden son. I was supposed to be the bad chap. But people were dazzled by me and the highway I bounced tether. I also spoke to everyone. Parties liked me. Leonard was the opposite and the Canadians thought he was a stuck-up dick. He started transporting his people to spy on me. I told Leonards brother: Your friend only has a few more dates as endorse. I am going to kill him. Hes going to end up dead.

In his entertaining autobiography, I Am Durn, published last year and out in paperback this July, he advocates: I was Mike Tyson before Mike Tyson came along. Boxers would take one look at me and crap in their throbs. Leonard would be no different. It was starting to dawn on the Americans that theyd never come across anything like me before this frightening, deadly being with his jet-black hair, dark seeings and bad meanings. El Diablo, they called me: The Devil.

Durn defeated Leonard, having suckered him into trying to fight rather than box, and he argues that his psychological warfare before the stint was a crucial programme. So was this why Durn, at his most crass, turning now to Leonards wife, Juanita, at the weigh-in and mentioned: Your spouse no good. After I beat him, I fuck you?

No , no, Durn affirms, I never said that.

I point out that the sentence is in his bible. Durn and his engaging son, Robin, who is an actor in Panama, discus in Spanish. My father never “re saying it”, Robin, who is our translator, confirms.

I eventually find the contentious string in the book and Robin shrugs. The scribe perhaps get that from other works. My father never went to those extremes.

Durn is proud of the book because it captivates the privation of his past as a street-kid in Panama as well as the rollicking madnes of his greatest times in boxing. It also offers me a chance to ask him what really happened in the abominable rematch. Theres not a epoch in “peoples lives” when I dont get asked about it, Durn adds. But its a must-have investigate because it was a turning point in “peoples lives”. After I pulsate Leonard I was the king of boxing. I was partying, partying, devouring, eating, imbibe, imbibe. But there was so much coin to be made for[ his proponent] Don King and[ his director] Carlos Eleta. They wanted the rematch too soon. It was crazy.

Roberto Durn fronts his old rival Marvin Hagler in Las Vegas, 24 years ago. Photo: The Ring Magazine/ Getty Images

Durn was partying hard-handed in New York in late September when Eleta called to say that the rematch would take place in November. Durn screamed: Are you fucking crazy? I weigh nearly 200 pounds. I cant drop all that weight[ to stimulate the 155 pound welterweight restriction] in a month.

The old-time fighter shakes his head. He was so drained by making use of value, and affected with belly convulsions, that he knew he was going to lose even before the first bell. When Leonard embarked taunting him in the seventh round, doing the Ali Shuffle and pretending to uncork a bolo perforate with his right before snapping out a fast left thrusting into the face, Durn burned with foiling. In the eighth, as Leonard resumed his antics, Durn turned away and gesticulated his glove at the reviewer, apparently announcing No ms [ no more ].

No one could believe that Durn, nicknamed Hands of Stone, had ceded with limp-wristed despair. He was disparaged particularly in Panama where his machismo had been adored. Yeah, it hurt me a great deal, Durn declares. I experienced humbled. But I never mentioned No ms . All I mentioned was No sigo I cant go on. I was fed up. It wasnt a fight any more.

Durn stepped out of the ring for the last time in July 2001 after his 119 th stint, which he lost on points to Hector Camacho at the age of 50, but he remains a fighter at heart. So he reasons now that, while Leonard won the rematch and a monotonous third crusade once they are its past their best in 1989, the American is more haunted by the No ms controversy.

Deep inside Leonard knows he didnt pulsate me suitably. Even though we are good friends now, its still more in his head than pit. We made a No ms programme and he was drawn deeper into it. He realised even more that I was in bad influence. He didnt beat me fair and square like I beat him in our first crusade. That recurs him. I think he loses more sleep over it than I do.

Roberto Durn moors a startling perforate on Sugar Ray Leonard at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Photo: Manny Millan/ Sports Illustrated/ Getty Images

Boxers are fascinating in their reasons and reinventions of the past and Durn is no different. He claims recovery given the fact that, after he earned nature entitlements at light-middle and middleweight, against Davey Moore and Iran Barkley in 1983 and 1989, the sweetest stuff was the resurgence. When I earned those championship battles I humbled my doubters back. Now I am old-time they all adore me. They even apologise for disrespecting me.

Durn has just completed a three-week tour of the UK, making appearances and being reacted with awe because the last huge era of boxing was ruled by the Four Kings Leonard, Durn, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns. They all pushed each other and Durn vows they controlled at a higher standard than unbeaten modern champions like Floyd Mayweather. I was not just brute force. Mayweather himself mentioned I was the most intelligent fighter and the greatest lightweight of all time. They asked him to liken me and Julio Csar Chvez[ the Mexican who dominated the lighter schisms in the late 1980 s and 1990 s ], Mayweather mentioned I was so much better. I am glad he said that but Mayweather wouldnt have been a hard fight for me. I pushed soldiers far tougher and stronger than Mayweather.

Hearns demoes signeds of having taken too many perforates but it is remarkable that Leonard, Hagler and Durn seem in such good shape today. I didnt take too many perforates to the manager, Durn adds. Yeah, I get knocked out by Hearns but I was just out of shape. I never got badly hurt. But I remember the last age I assured Barkley I mentioned: Barkley, I want to make you to Panama again. He mentioned: Yeah, Roberto, you have money. Make me. But he was talking in slow motion. He seemed sick.

Roberto Durn, seen here rallying his bonus from Don King after overcoming Sugar Ray Leonard, told me that he always insists on being paid in money. Photo: Bettmann/ Bettmann Archive

Durn might have resembled a malevolent force in the ring but in later years a different back to his reputation rose. The first humanity to beat him, Esteban de Jess, who earned a restricted decision over the 21 -year-old Durn in 1972, died from Aids in 1989. Durn detested the facts of the case that he had lost his unbeaten enter to De Jess and he retaliated that rout with two deciding victories, but he depicted huge compassion to the Puerto Rican. At a age when Aids was a disease shrouded in misinformation, Durn visited his former foe on his deathbed. He cuddled and kissed the emaciated De Jess. Inside the ring “you think youre” foes but outside you become friends. That was always my think. I experience sympathy for all soldiers. Thats why I facilitated Tyson.

Tyson had always idolised Durn and, at his lowest detail in a life fitted with such despair, the onetime blue-chip called him at 2am. In 2009 Tysons four-year-old daughter had just died in a disastrous coincidence. Tyson had also turning now to Durn, as a prospective instructor, when he tried to resurrect his hopeless busines four years earlier.

Talk of Tyson reminders me to invite Durn if he watched Anthony Joshuas epic heavyweight title defeat of Wladimir Klitschko. I liked it so much. I didnt know much about Joshua before the fight. Parties told me he hadnt struggle a strong foe but we knew Klitschko would be hard. When I assured Klitschko slapped down I was amazed. But then he got up and pushed back. And when Joshua goes down I thought it was all over because of Klitschkos experience. But Joshua did well. He cleared his head and I mentioned: Gape, he has a second wind. Joshua is going to win this. The knockout was impressive. Hes the top chap now.

Where did Durn watch the fight? Right here in this hotel bar. There were numerous people and when Joshua came out the latter are nervous. But when Joshua produced down Klitschko people were prancing around like crazy. It was a great crusade, a great night.

Did it stimulate him miss being a fighter himself? No. I have more fun now with my friends and family. I might not have as much coin as I once had but Im a fortunate humanity. The nature adores me. I dont look for tribulation no more.

It makes a change from his hell-raising dates. Questioned about the seemingly apocryphal narrative that he had once knocked out a mare in Panama City, Durn makes a clear distinction. I slapped him down, Durn adds with the credibility of a devotee in vicious punching. In November 1969, after his 15 th pro stint and aged 18, he was offered a stake $100 and a bottle of whisky if he could flatten a mare with a single perforate. Durn says he was reluctant to hurt the animal but, stimulus on by a girlfriend and previously imbibe, he took the stake. The mare went down from a startling left hook. It get up but Durns detriment pas had to be sewed up without anaesthetic. He didnt upkeep: The daughter was caressing me and I was sucking the whisky I earned. I didnt experience a thing.

What happens if someone starts taunting him now imagining he might bring down the old-time but mighty Hands of Stone? I had a couple of street battles. Big tough guys trying it on. But those battles previous one minute. Bam. I settled them down with one perforate. Thats all it made. But, actually, I escape tribulation. Its only if it gets highly impertinent that I have to take action. Im really a fortunate guy.

That happiness sheds over when I question Durn if its genuine he still insists on being paid in money whether its for a tour of Britain or a bible lot? He contacts for my limb again and calls: Cash only! Thats the only stuff I make. I dont like banks, I dont like engineering. Its because Im a fighter. We keep it simple and beautiful.

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