After having rendered Doug Denning almost senseless last Friday night, Marvin Hagler, a bare-skulled and brutish figure, pushed across the ring at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and began shouting down at Gil Clancy, who was at ringside working as a CBS-TV color commentator. Clancy also is manager of Rodrigo Valdes, the middleweight world champion. Hagler shouted, "I want Valdes bad. Real bad."
Clancy is seldom at a loss for words, but now, staring up at Hagler, he was mute. The Toy Bull can do that to the managers of other middleweights. Hagler, only 5'9�" and 158� pounds, seems to have muscles on his muscles. He is small but frightening, like a stick of dynamite. No wonder no one wants to mess with him.
At last, Clancy said, "Oh, yeah."
"That's more than we get out of most managers," said Pat Petronelli, one of Hagler's co-manager-trainers. "Usually when we challenge somebody, they just turn away without even grunting. Guys run from Marvin so much they should be in track meets instead of fights."
"They're all a bunch of sissies," said Hagler.
Smart might be a better description. Hagler has a 39-2-1 record, with 33 knockouts, most recently Denning. And five of the victims went directly from Boston Garden, the Brockton, Mass. slugger's home arena, to Massachusetts General Hospital. A few others just went directly into retirement.
"He's retired more fighters than old age," says Pat Petronelli.
Hagler, 25, has been knocking people out of the picture since 1973, but only lately has his name begun to appear in the ratings. Last month Ring magazine listed him as the No. 1 challenger. The WBC has him No. 7, the WBA No. 9.
"Politics," growls Hagler, who has had to supplement his meager ring earnings with construction work. "There's a lot of politics in the WBA and the WBC. And righting in Massachusetts hasn't helped any either. Name me one black fighter who ever made it big out of that state. There aren't any. Joe Frazier once told me I had three strikes against me. I'm a southpaw. I'm black. And I can punch. Maybe I should have been born a right-handed white sissy."
Hagler was born in a Newark, N.J. slum, the eldest child in a fatherless family of seven. Crime came as naturally to him as breathing. When he was 16, his mother decided to move the family to Brockton, where her sister lived. "At first Brockton was just like Newark," says Hagler, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. "I was running a lot, stealing a little. There wasn't much else to do. Then I thought about fighting. I tried one gym. Then I tried another."