The history of boxing has been graced by several legends since its acceptance as a global sport; the likes of Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Jake LaMotta, Floyd Mayweather, and even Roberto Duran. But for this article, we will focus on Panamanian former boxer Roberto Duran who competed in the sport for over five decades. Duran is best known for defeating Sugar Ray Leonard to become WBC Welterweight Champion. He also became a world champion in four weight classes with a record of only 16 losses out of 119 total fights in his boxing career.
Roberto Duran: Bio
Roberto Duran was born on the 16th of June, 1951 in Guararé, Panama. His father, Margarito Duran Sanchez, hailed from Arizona, USA and was of Mexican descent. His mother, Clara Samaniego, hailed from Guararé. Roberto grew up in the El Chorrillo slums in the “La Casa de Piedra” district (The House of Stone). At the age of eight, he had begun sparring with experienced boxers at the Neco de La Guardia gymnasium, earning himself a lot of experience for the sport he would later grow big in. Growing up poor, the champ shined shoes, sold newspapers with his brother and danced on the streets so he could earn money. He also painted houses and washed dishes in restaurants, giving the money he earned to his mother.
At the age of 16, he made his professional debut in 1968. His first professional match was against Carlos Mendoza, which he won after 4 rounds by unanimous decision. His second match against Juan Gondola would be different, as he won this one by a knockout. Roberto Duran would go on to have a 31 match winning streak against boxers from Panama, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States, Cuba, Japan, and even Puerto Rico. It was at his 32nd match that Roberto recorded his first loss in a no-title match against Esteban de Jésus at the Madison Square Garden on the 17th of November, 1972.
The loss would fuel Duran to double down and go on to win the next 41 matches, having his revenge against Esteban along the way. He would go on to win Sugar Ray Leonard on the 20th of June, 1980. This win gave him the WBC title, marking him in the history books as the person to stop Ray’s unbeaten streak.
Roberto’s strength and winning streaks earned him the nickname “Manos de Piedra” (Hands of Stone) thanks to the strength behind his punches. During his career, he won the lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight championships. He also decorated his career with the undisputed, lineal lightweight and lineal welterweight championship wins.
After a car crash in October 2001 that required serious surgery, Roberto Duran retired in January 2002. His professional record comprises 119 fights, 103 wins, 16 losses and 70 knockouts.
Roberto also dabbled in television, appearing as Sylvester Stallone’s sparring partner in the movie Rocky II (1979). He has also had minor roles in Harlem Nights and Miami Vice. Before he was in the car crash, he was in Argentina to promote a salsa music CD he had released.
A biopic was made in 2016 called Hands of Stone. The movie starred Edgar Ramirez as Roberto Duran and Usher Raymond as Sugar Ray Leonard.
With the several accolades and winning streaks Roberto Duran raked in his life, it would only make sense that at retirement he’d be able to live comfortably. And he can, with an estimated net worth of $3 million. Chances are that the amount would be more, except that Roberto was known to give huge chunks of his money back to his community in Panama, likening himself to Robin Hood.
His Wife and Children
Roberto married his long-time girlfriend Mia Felicidad in the early stages of his career. Some reports say this happened when he was 17 and she was 14. However, in the slums of Panama, it wasn’t unheard of for two people to call themselves husband and wife before a ceremony was done. The book Hands of Stone by Christian Giudice records the wedding around Roberto’s victory against Sugar Ray, at which point Felicidad’s parents had finally accepted him.
Together they have six children; Irichelle, Giovana, Roberto Jr, Víctor, Dalia, and Robin, who was named after the English folklore hero Robin Hood. There are also rumors that he fathered a daughter called Dalia with a girlfriend named Silvia who he was seeing before meeting Felicidad. Roberto Duran has two brothers; Domingo Samaniego and Armando.
Is He Alive or Dead?
Roberto is very much alive and enjoying his retirement along with his wife. Even though the car crash he faced was terrible enough to require life-saving surgery, Roberto has been taking it easy afterward and keeping himself fit. His reason for being fit is because of how his friend former footballer Diego Maradona gained weight after he retired. He remarked that when it’s time to give him honors he’d like to look and be fit for the committee, rather than end up looking fat.