PANAMA CITY.- Legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto «Hands of Stone» Duran, who inspired generations of his countrymen with his feats in the ring from 1968 to 2001, praised a new documentary about his life in an interview with EFE, saying that he felt like Harry Potter because his life had enough material for a series of «10, 20 movies.»
The 67-year-old retired pugilist discussed «I Am Duran,» a documentary by British filmmaker Mat Hodgson that looks at his career with political and economic events in Panama as the backdrop and commentary by movie stars such as Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone, both of whom have played boxers on the big screen, and legendary fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson.
Duran was relaxed and open during his conversation with EFE, describing himself as a man without any attachments and discussing the painful isolation he felt after the infamous «No mas» fight, in which he called it quits in the 8th round of a November 1980 welterweight championship bout against Leonard.
The Panamanian, who won world titles as a lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight, was defending the World Boxing Council (WBC) title he had won against the American months earlier.
Q: Roberto, how does the documentary «I Am Duran» look to you?
A: I love the documentary, it fascinates me because it has many things that were not in the first movie I made, («Hands of Stone» by Jonathan Jakubowicz in 2016). I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the whole thing, but when I see those great boxers talking about ‘Hands of Stone,» I don’t believe it myself. Those great boxers, who are big shots, talking about ‘Hands of Stone» Duran, people who love Duran.
I have lots of stories, and this documentary has a lot, lots to tell. And Roberto Duran has still not told his story. Roberto Duran can give you 10 Harry Potter-style films, but they are 10 films about real stories about what happened to Roberto Duran: when he was ripped off, robbed, that and many more things, many more things.
Q: How does Roberto Duran describe himself?
A: I’ll describe what Roberto Duran is like: centered, a good person, pretty friendly, easygoing, a good father, a good friend, I try to make friends even if they hate me. I’m not interested in those who criticize me and talk about me, I have a quiet life, I don’t bother anybody … I’m not interested in money, I could care less if you have $20 million and I have $3, it doesn’t interest me. I’m a happy man, I’m not asking anybody for anything. And if I want something, I call some friends on the phone and they lend me whatever I need, and after the fight, or whatever, if I owe, I pay. That’s Roberto Duran.
Q: How do you remember the «No mas» fight?
A: What hurt me the most about the «No mas» (fight) was the next day, when I got up to go to breakfast and (trainers) Ray Arcel and Freddie Brown, (and manager) Carlos Eleta, had left me alone at the hotel … that’s what I remember about that fight.
Q: For you, who hit the hardest? Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler or Iran Barkley?
A: Sugar Ray Leonard was the one who hit the hardest. Sugar Ray had good things, he knew how to box, fight and hit, you had to figure him out. How to counteract that, attack and not let him think, shrink the ring, get him here and there, and corner him, for me, that’s what frustrated Leonard (in the first fight between the boxers in mid-1980, which Duran won).
Q: Let’s talk about boxing today. Do you think today’s boxers are worth so much money?
A: The world changes, papa. Sadly, there are boxers today who, for me, are not worth a cent, but they have a good manager. And the manager is the one who asks (for the money) for the boxer.