Hands of Stone 🤛- The Legendary Panamanian Warrior Roberto Durán

Hands of Stone 🤛- The Legendary Panamanian Warrior Roberto Durán

Perhaps no fighter better embodied machismo and the warrior spirit than the great Roberto Durán. Nicknamed "Manos de Piedra" (Hands of Stone), Durán crafted a staggering 119-7 career record across an unbelievable 33 years in prize fighting. Campaigning in the star-packed 1970s and 80s widely considered boxing's last great era, Durán became a four division world champion fighting up to middleweight from lightweight. His legendary trilogy with Sugar Ray Leonard, upset Iran Barkley to capture the middleweight title at age 37, and comeback attempts into his 50s cemented Durán's reputation for toughness that still awes fans today. 😲 This is the story of the legendary Panamanian icon they called "Manos de Piedra."



Upbringing & Amateur Success


Born in 1951 in El Chorrillo, Panama, Durán grew up the son of an American Marine and Mexican mother. Surrounded by poverty and violence from a young age, he learned fighting skills on the streets out of necessity. After being kicked out of school in fourth grade for dropping out to work, Durán picked boxing as a profession by age 16. He debuted winning Panama’s featherweight championship then built his skills fighting American soldiers on Panama Canal Zone military bases where top coaching and sparring sharpened his talents.


Turning pro in 1968 at just 16, he rattled off 29 straight wins, showcasing aggressive pressure fighting and debilitating body punch power belying his 5’7” height. World champion lightweight champion Ken Buchanan took notice and agreed to defend against Durán for big money in 1972 at Madison Square Garden. The 21-year old seized the moment, dominating Buchanan before unleashing a vicious low blow and finishing assault prompting a round 13 stoppage. Back in Panama, a national hero emerged in “Manos de Piedra.”


Lightweight Supremacy


Over a dominant 6+ year lightweight championship reign, Durán became arguably the greatest 135lb fighter ever. He imposed his will through world class conditioning, technique mastery, and granite chin toughness. All the while his warrior identity endeared him to Latin American fans during boxing’s last days as a major American TV sport. Durán made quality boxers look helpless trying to counter his blurring speed combinations and murderous intent.


From 1972-1978, Durán battered future Hall of Famers like Buchanan, Esteban De Jesus and more in successful title defenses across Panama and Puerto Rico. Showcasing mastery fighting off the ropes or toe-to-toe, he rode savage aggression and power punching making him arguably the most feared man in boxing entering the 1980s and tantalizing megabouts ahead with the era's other greats.



Iconic Leonard Rivalry & Middleweight Glory


By June 1980, Durán had compiled 71 wins and one loss, but remained unknown by mainstream America. When he signed to fight golden boy Olympic icon Sugar Ray Leonard –the WBC’s welterweight (147lb) champion and darling of network boxing broadcasts, Durán got his crossover showcase.


In a classic performance, Durán relentlessly pressured and counterpunched Leonard to lift the title via close 15-round decision. Five months later they agreed an immediate rematch with big money again on the line. But in New Orleans, a flat Durán mysteriously quit mid-fight coining his infamous “No Mas” surrender. Questions emerged whether Durán lacked the brand of intangibles and mental strength separating elite champions from great ones when struggling.


Redemption came in 1983 and beyond. Still determined fighting much bigger men, Durán sensationally upset 154lb WBA champion Davey Moore for another alphabet title. Then in 1989, he achieved his late career masterpiece - a Round 7 knockout of feared puncher Iran Barkley to lift the legitimate middleweight crown at age 37. By winning titles in four weight classes over 17 years, Durán capped divisional dominance historical peers like Leonard and Thomas Hearns couldn’t match. Other Panamanian world champions since like Eusebio Pedroza and Roberto Vásquez never came close to his accomplishments.



Eternal Warrior Spirit


Durán finally retired in January 2002 at age 50 after returning from multiple retirements for nearly 20 years. His final record tallies 120 total bouts for 103 wins (70 by knockout) alongside 16 defeats. In June 1994, he entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame just months after surpassing 100 career victories.


Beyond the many belts and honors, Durán’s echoing legacy pays homage to warrior virtue. His willingness battling far larger men well into his late 30s and 40s defied belief. The prime divisional excellence and upsets later against champions like Iran Barkley and Pat Lawlor despite widening disadvantages stacked odds dramatically against him. Yet through sheer determination down to his last days fighting as a senior citizen in the new millennium, something profound in the man simply refused losing.


That mystical durability explains the iconic "Manos de Piedra" legend and idolatry still felt in Panama and Latin America today. While other career contemporaries like Leonard enjoy greatness fighting more safely to protect their legacies' optics, few match Durán's supreme sacrifice to the fighting code. In giving everything he had battling the very best every step of the way, the heart of the warrior ideal endures immortal through Roberto Durán. No great fighter ever embodied or earned the nickname "Hands of Stone" more befitting. 🥊



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