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.