In all the years he went to school, while growing up in Houston, no course of study left a more vivid impression on Raul Marquez than the class his father used to convene on the couch in the family living room. It was there, in front of the 25-inch color television set, that Arturo Marquez conducted an intensive course of applied science—of applied sweet science, that is, Marvin Hagler-style.
The elder Marquez would run videotapes of Hagler's fights when Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world and presided over the division like a bald-headed Zeus, throwing bolts of lightning from either side to paralyzing effect. "Look at the way he moves," Arturo would lecture his son. "See how he throws the right jab, then takes one step right and throws the left. Pow! He uses both hands, Raul! Jabs, hooks, uppercuts. Look at the body punches! He does everything. He is beautiful!"
As a young man in Mexico, Arturo had had his boxing idols, from countryman Salvador Sanchez to Roberto Duran. But it was Hagler, who fought southpaw, that he held up as a model to his lefthanded son. "Everything I taught Raul, I learned from Marvin Hagler," says Arturo.
The boy learned well. Two weeks ago, on his way to winning the 156-pound division at the Olympic Boxing Trials in Worcester, Mass., the 20-year-old Marquez stunned Robert Allen in the quarterfinals with a withering, two-handed body attack, setting him up for jarring shots to the head that had Allen out on his feet when the referee stopped the fight in the third round. Marquez's performance was notable for the power of the punching and the savagery of the attack. Last Friday in Phoenix, at the Olympic Box-off, the final step in the elimination process to determine the U.S. team, a wildly over-zealous Marquez jabbed, hooked and banged his way to a 78-13 decision over Antwun Echols to earn a place on the 12-man squad heading for Barcelona.
While Marquez's 78 scored punches in his Box-off match were the most landed by a boxer in the 13 bouts over three days—and this despite fighting with an elbow still so sore from the Allen bout that he could not throw a straight left hand—Echols's 43 were the most hits scored by a losing fighter. Indeed, at times the bout looked like something you might see after last call in a biker bar.
At one point, trying desperately to knock Echols out, Marquez missed with a hook thrown so hard that he spun 180 degrees and crashed to the deck. Throughout the fight he repeatedly put himself at risk against a puncher he was beating easily on points.
"Pride," said Marquez by way of explanation. "He was slugging me. I was slugging him back."
Roger Bloodworth, one of Marquez's advisers, rolled his eyes at that. "You fight with your brain, not your pride," said Bloodworth.
The taking of risks may also have been learned from the father. Arturo spent five years avoiding the scrutiny of U.S. Customs agents in Chicago Heights, Ill., where he lived as an illegal alien, off and on, while working to save money to start and then support a family. He was the second of 10 children born to a farming family in Valle Hermoso, a dot on the map of northern Mexico, and as a young man he studied to be a machinist. Like many Mexicans, he looked across the Rio Grande for his future. In 1969, trying to raise enough money to marry his childhood sweetheart, he set out for Chicago with only the clothes he was wearing. He traveled on a tourist visa, which did not permit him to work, but he found a job nonetheless, in a machine shop outside Chicago.
"The times were booming, and they needed machinists," Arturo says. "It was hard. I didn't know the language. I lived by myself. No family. No friends. I suffered from loneliness."