Box­ing great Aaron Pryor dies at 60

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

AARON PRYOR, the re­lent­less ju­nior wel­ter­weight who fought two mem­o­rable bouts with Alexis Ar­guello, died yes­ter­day. He was 60.

Pryor’s fam­ily is­sued a state­ment say­ing the boxer died at his home in Cincin­nati after a long bat­tle with heart disease.

Known as ‘The Hawk’, Pryor was a crowd favourite who fought with a fre­netic style, rarely if ever tak­ing a step back­wards. His fights in the early 1980s with Ar­guello, the great Nicaraguan cham­pion, were both clas­sics that are still talked about in box­ing cir­cles.

But Pryor was a trou­bled cham­pion, and his ca­reer would un­ravel be­cause of an ad­dic­tion to co­caine.

“He was very un­ortho­dox and could throw punches from all kinds of an­gles with great hand speed,” said for­mer As­so­ci­ated Press box­ing writer Ed Schuyler Jr. “He was a great fighter, it’s too bad he didn’t have more fights.”

Pryor’s widow, Frankie Pryor, said her hus­band – who would later speak out about the evils of drugs – also had a side most fans didn’t know about.

“Aaron was known around the world as ‘The Hawk’ and

PRYOR

de­lighted mil­lions of fans with his ag­gres­sive and crowd-pleas­ing box­ing style,” she said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing his death. “But to our fam­ily he was a beloved hus­band, fa­ther, grand­fa­ther, brother, un­cle and friend.”

Pryor was un­beaten in 31 fights when he and Ar­guello met in a 140-pound ti­tle clash in the Or­ange Bowl in Mi­ami on Novem­ber 12, 1982. Ar­guello was a clas­sic boxer-puncher con­sid­ered one of the top pound-for-pound fight­ers, but Pryor would not back off as the two men traded punches for the bet­ter part of 14 rounds.

Pryor fi­nally wore Ar­guello down, stop­ping him in the 14th round with a flurry of punches. Ring mag­a­zine later picked the bout as the Fight of the Decade.

“It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen,” Schuyler said. “I’d put it in the top five.” In this Novem­ber 10, 1982 file photo, World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion ju­nior wel­ter­weight champ Aaron Pryor yells as he trains on the speed bag at his Coconut Grove train­ing camp in Mi­ami.

Pryor’s win was marred, though, by ques­tions about a bot­tle wrapped in black tape that his cor­ner man raised to his lips on sev­eral oc­ca­sions be­tween rounds in the fight. Many in box­ing thought it con­tained stim­u­lants, but the cor­ner

man, Ar­tie Cur­ley, said it was pep­per­mint schnapps.

Pryor would beat Ar­guello again the next Septem­ber in Las Ve­gas, this time stop­ping him in the 10th round of their sched­uled 15-round bout. Ar­guello went down in the round from a se­ries of punches and de­clined to get back up.

“Ar­guello was a great fighter, but he couldn’t han­dle Pryor,” Schuyler said. “He could have got­ten up, but what was the point?”

The sec­ond Ar­guello fight was the pin­na­cle of Pryor’s ca­reer. He be­came a heavy co­caine user, and fought only six more times in the next seven years, fin­ish­ing his ca­reer with a record of 39-1 with 35 knockouts.

“I reached out and cer­tain peo­ple did not give me their right hand,” Pryor said later of his drug use. “They gave me drugs.”

Pryor was named the ‘Great­est Jr. Wel­ter­weight of the Cen­tury by The As­so­ci­ated Press and was in­ducted into the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Hall of Fame in 1996. He would later travel the world mak­ing per­sonal ap­pear­ances and spread­ing his anti-drug mes­sage.

Pryor is sur­vived by his wife and part­ner of over a quar­ter of a cen­tury, Frankie Pryor, sons Aaron Pryor Jr and Ant­wan Har­ris, daugh­ter El­iz­a­beth Wag­ner and three grand­sons Adam, Austin and Aaron Pryor III.

FILE

CA­REER PIN­NA­CLE

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