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Brockton honors Marvelous Marvin Hagler

Boxing legend’s statue unveiled in the City of Champions

Jimmy Myers
Brockton honors Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Marvin Hagler ’s lifelike statue on Hagler Way. BANNER PHOTO

On June 13, with the sun shining bright in downtown Brockton, a boxing legend’s legacy took on a new shape. Before a crowd of over 300 people, Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan unveiled the bronze statue of the late Marvelous Marvin Hagler, the Undisputed World Middleweight Boxing Champion from 1980-1987.  A tree honoring Hagler’s mother, Ida May Lang, stands just a few feet away from the statue of her famous son, a place where her memory belongs.

Designed by the Brodin Studios in Kimball, Minnesota, the statue, which has models of Hagler’s championship belts at its base, is now part of Marvelous Marvin Hagler Park, located at the junction of Hagler Way and Petronelli Way (named after Goody and Pat Petronelli-Hagler’s longtime trainers and handlers). 

The statue is directly across from the Petronelli Gym, where Hagler trained throughout his Hall of Fame Boxing career.

The statue bears a remarkable likeness to Hagler in every facet of design.  It is a thing of beauty.  When you stand and view it, you can’t help but feel that the Champ himself is inside the bronze statue — it is that lifelike.  So many memories of Marvelous Marvin Hagler came to mind as I stood transfixed on the statue.

The first memory was meeting Hagler for the first time at the beginning of his now-historic pugilistic career. He boxed both lefthanded and righthanded, but mostly lefthanded — something that most people connected with the sport felt was a negative part of his style.  I heard many trainers ask, “How many great lefthanded boxers are there?” with the answer being “Not many.”

But Marvelous Marvin Hagler was an exceptional talent.  Born to be righthanded, he chose to box lefthanded.  He could switch to the conventional righthanded stance but felt that his lefthanded stance created more problems for opponents, which proved correct.

Master of ceremonies Brockton
Mayor Robert F. Sullivan. BANNER PHOTO

As he stormed up the rankings in the Middleweight Division of professional boxing, his style became less of a deterrent and more of an asset.  There were many exciting bouts as most of his opponents took a hammering from the “Bruiser from Brockton.”  Not since the days of Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano — who has his statue in Brockton — has the city had a boxing champion like Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

“He was more than a boxing champion.  He was a man of the people,” says Mayor Sullivan.

“Marvin would take time to touch people from every part of Brockton as well as every place he traveled in this world.”  That sentiment was expressed by many people, including some in the crowd of 300 that turned out for the statue raising and the official announcement that June 13 will be permanently named “Marvelous Marvin Hagler Day” in the City of Brockton, Massachusetts.  Historical Note: June 13, 1993, was the day of Marvelous Marvin Hagler”s induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  Another notable point is that the date is just four days ahead of his late mother’s birthday on June 17 — a fact highly appreciated by the large contingent of Hagler family members.

Hagler’s sister Ronnie, one of the family’s principal spokespeople, expressed joy and satisfaction over the proceedings.  “My family and I are extremely proud and grateful for this day.  His statue is a work of art.  We are also overjoyed that the tree honoring my mother is right next to his statue.  The two will now be linked together for all to see.  My mother was one of Marvin’s greatest champions.  And now she has her rightful place next to him.”

Sydney Marrow headed the day-to-day operations vital to completing the Hagler statue/Mae Lang tree site on time for the special day.  “My late husband and I shared many special moments with Marvin.  We both developed a great love for the Champ.  He never let fame go to his head.  He stayed a humble gentleman and always drew praise from the way he carried himself.”

His 62-win, three-loss, two-tie record is among the greatest in pugilistic history.  The most upsetting defeat came against Sugar Ray Leonard in Las Vegas in 1987.  Much controversy was attached to the final decision, which gave Leonard, the media darling- a victory that many in the boxing world question to this day.  Hagler, with a chance to make millions more dollars in a rematch, quit boxing and never returned to the ring.  He later said, “Sugar Ray never hurt me in that fight.  He danced around, threw pitty-pat punches, and was rewarded for his flashy style.  I nailed him in the late stages of the 5th round, but the bell saved him.  When the decision was announced, I was stunned.  Here I was, the Undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World, losing my title that way.  I always thought you had to knock out (or at least knock down) the champion to take his crown.  I thought back to my title about with Vito Antuofermo on November 30, 1979.  I beat him all over the ring, but he retained his title.  I was told, ‘You must K.O. the Champ to take his belt.’  But in 1987, with 14 successful title defenses to my record (tying the all-time mark of Carlos Monzon), I lose on a ‘Las Vegas style’ decision.” 

“I was through with boxing from that moment,” he said.

Hagler left the United States and lived in Italy for the next several years. He became an international movie star with his role as Sargeant Indigo. He died in the state of New Hampshire at the age of 66 in 2021.

A new book chronicling the Champ’s life by Brockton native Dave Wedge will come out in 2025, and Oscar winner Sam Rockwell purchased the film rights based on the tome. The star of “The Green Mile” and “3 Billboards” loves the sport.  Mayor Robert Sullivan has assured everyone at the gathering that the Scholarship/Endowment at Massasoit Community College that bears Hagler’s name will continue.  This legacy was one of the dying wishes of his mother, Ida Mae Lang.  Mae Lang often said: “I don’t ever want people to forget about my son.”  The statue and her tree will be a lasting monument for years. 

Marvelous Marvin Hagler often stated: “Success is not important unless you share it with someone.”

He shared so much of his life with people.  His statue is a testament to his work on this earth.  Hopefully, millions will get to see it on Hagler Way in Brockton.

Brockton, City of Champions, MA, Marvin Hagler, professional boxing