COMMERCE, TX—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 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 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 in his native country of Panama, partly due 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 talked with media members 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 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 side Barcelona.
He shook his head when asked if there was any fighter he wanted to get in the ring with but never got the chance to. “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.
They 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 rugged upbringing in Panama to the highs of his World Championship titles.
They asked him 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 most of his time partying hard and gaining weight, and his manager blindsided him when he contacted him to tell him he was signed to fight Leonard in months.
“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, so I ended the fight.”
Durán was reviled in his native Panama for years following the “No Más” incident, but he rebounded. He 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 music and movie career. 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. Be sure to surround yourself with good people, and you will succeed.”