When they returned home to Hanover, Hagler was an emotional wreck. "He cried a lot," Bertha says. "I got him to talk about it a little. He felt he did get robbed. He said, 'I'll never be able to get my life and marriage together until I get my belts back.' " In the end, she says, he grew colder and more remote.
"I was trying to get him to talk to me," Bertha says. "He'd say, 'I don't want to talk about it.' I'd say, 'You have to talk about it. You can't go on like this.' It was frustrating for me because I couldn't get to him. The more I tried, the more distant he became." Hagler grew further from her, physically as well as emotionally. He spent more time away from home. "I thought, Maybe he'll wake up and find there's more to life than drinking and partying," she says.
She believes that her husband's central problem was the outcome of the fight and that he remains angry with her and the Petronellis over it. "He's bitter toward all three of us," she says. "He's going to have to come down to reality. He knows the mistakes he made in this fight, and he has to deal with them."
The differences between Marvin and Bertha became public in late June, when Bertha filed an abuse petition in Hingham (Mass.) District Court that claimed, "Marvin threw me out of the house. He pushed me. He hit the car with a boulder. I am in fear of him." A judge issued a temporary order barring Hagler from their house and gave Bertha custody of their five children, for the time being. Hagler did not contest the order and moved to an apartment in Boston. The incident was, she says, the first and only time he had ever been violent with her. And now she thinks she may have acted too hastily.
The story made all the papers, of course, but that was only the beginning. A few days later, sports anchor John Dennis of WNEV-TV in Boston reported that Hagler was involved in "widespread abuse of both alcohol and cocaine." Dennis went on to say: "Those closest to Marvin Hagler say it was that decision on April 6 that started him on the downward spiral. Almost immediately after his return home to Boston, they [friends and family] say Marvin's despair over the loss steered him toward alcohol and cocaine."
Dennis, an old friend of Hagler's, insisted his sources were solid. "They came to me," he said.
On all counts, except for that of excessive drinking, Hagler now pleads innocent. He says he did not abuse Bertha. Yes, they had an argument, and he did throw a rock at her car. "I thought I was handling things in the proper way," he says. "I wasn't putting my hands on her or anything like that." And, yes, there was a time he was drinking heavily: "I've put it back in moderation now." But, no, he says, he did not "abuse" cocaine: "If I do cocaine, I can lose all those things I worked very hard for...."
He says that the trouble in his marriage has nothing to do with his loss to Leonard: "There's no connection. Things were heating up before the fight. I don't see why people are making a big thing out of it. Because I lost the fight, they said I was going crazy. That's bull.
"Everything tumbled down on me at the wrong time. My mother-in-law's death, the fight, my marriage—everything was on top of me. I admitted I was drinking a lot more than what I normally do. It was me trying to understand what was happening with my marriage.
"Bertha and I need some time away from each other. We've been together since we were 14 years old. I love Bertha. I always will. If people were to leave me and Bertha alone, maybe we could figure out our own problems and maybe we could put it together ourselves."