World Champion Boxer Roberto Durán Meets with University Community at A&M-Commerce Event

A legend in the world of boxing, Roberto Durán made a special appearance at Texas A&M University-Commerce on Tuesday, October 10. The former World Champion engaged with students, faculty and staff through a series of special events.

Durán, known as “Manos de Piedra” or “Hands of Stone,” is a Hall of Fame boxer who won World Championships in four different weight classes during a professional career that spanned from 1968 to 2001. He retired with a career record of 103-16 and is the second boxer in history to fight professionally across five decades.

His life was dramatized in the 2016 film “Hands of Stone,” starring Édgar Ramírez as Durán, Robert De Niro as Durán's longtime trainer, Ray Arcel, and the musician Usher as Sugar Ray Leonard. He continues to be a national hero to his native country of Panama, due in part to his significant charitable work.

At the beginning of his campus visit, Durán spoke with members of the A&M-Commerce community during a luncheon at Rayburn Student Center. He also spoke with members of the media and a select group of student representatives throughout the day.

Speaking to the media, Durán reminisced about his many memorable moments in the ring and what he's been up to more recently. Since Durán primarily speaks Spanish, his daughter Irichelle served as his interpreter.

“I spend a lot of time on the beach,” Durán said, referring to his lifestyle now that his fighting days are over. “I also like doing public service. I want to give back to those in need.”

When asked if he keeps up with boxing nowadays, Durán said he rarely settles down in front of the television to take in a match. “I'd much rather watch soccer instead,” Durán said with a laugh, adding that his favorite team is the Spanish Barcelona.

When asked if there was any fighter that he wanted to get in the ring with but never got the chance to, he shook his head. “I fought everyone,” he said.

The main event of Durán's visit came later in the evening when he sat down with Dr. Robert Rodriguez, professor and interim associate dean of the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts, for a live talk show-style interview in front of a crowd of students, faculty and staff. Durán received a standing ovation from the gathered crowd upon his entry.

It was also announced that film crews were attending the event to gather footage for an upcoming docu-reality series featuring Durán and his family.

Durán took a series of questions from Rodriguez and seemed to savor the opportunity to speak to the A&M-Commerce audience, talking at length about the lows of his hard upbringing in Panama to the highs of his World Championship titles.

He was also asked about what many could argue was his most infamous moment: The “No Más” fight against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980, where Durán infamously threw in the towel in the eighth round and is said to have told the referee “No más” or “no more” to signal his intention to end the fight. He has publicly denied that he ever said those words during the fight.

Durán explained his rationale for abandoning the Leonard fight, saying that following his first fight with Leonard just a few months prior, he spent his most of his time partying hard and gaining weight and was blindsided when his manager contacted him to tell him he was signed to fight Leonard in a month's time.

“I was very out of shape when training for the rematch,” Durán said. “I still wasn't fully prepared when it came to the fight. I was too out of shape and weak, and that was why I ended the fight.”

Durán was reviled in his native Panama for years following the “No Más” incident, but he managed to rebound and would later win another World Boxing Association title just a few years later, subsequently returning him to hero status throughout Panama.

During his talk at A&M-Commerce, Durán also spoke about his many other endeavors, including his careers in music and movies. He expounded on his interactions with Sylvester Stallone on the set of “Rocky II” and also delighted the crowd with a small sample of his singing.

At the end of the event, Durán took audience questions and stayed for a photo session with attendees. He also left a message for the students in attendance: “In your life, you will come across friends who are both good and bad. Make sure to surround yourself with the good people and you will be successful.”

(Top photo by Matt Strasen, A&M-Commerce Marketing and Communications)