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Original Issue

Thomas Hearns, Boxer SEPTEMBER 14, 1981

Should Don King fear this man? He talks slowly, and you have to
listen carefully to understand him. But what he is saying sounds
eminently reasonable--if far-fetched for boxing: As a promoter he
will try to be honest above all else, and he wants his fighters
to fulfill their potential as athletes and as people. His plan is
to offer a pension to every boxer he promotes. Oh, yeah, he
doesn't want anybody mad at him either. "I'm not naming names,
but there aren't many promoters doing the right things," says
Thomas (Hit Man) Hearns, who launched Hearns Entertainment Inc.
two years ago. "I see a real need there."

Is this the same man who in the course of a 24-year ring career
won six world titles, from welterweight to light heavyweight,
attacking opponents like an uncoiling cobra? It is, and he
appears just as determined to succeed in his new job. A product
of Detroit's sulfurous Kronk Gym, Hearns turned pro in 1977 at
age 19. With a right hand that seemed to explode in the faces of
foes, he knocked out 30 of his first 32 opponents en route to the
WBA 147-pound title, setting up a 1981 showdown with WBC champ
Sugar Ray Leonard. Hearns lost that bout on a 14th-round TKO,
after an epic seesaw fight. It was just one highlight in a golden
era for boxing's middle divisions. From '80 to '89 the
charismatic foursome of Hearns, Leonard, Roberto Duran and Marvin
Hagler waged nine classic battles among themselves. Hearns
flattened Duran in two rounds in '84 and fought to a draw with
Leonard in '89, but his most memorable moment came in his 1985
collision with middleweight champ Hagler. Though Hearns lost that
night, on a third-round KO, he and Hagler produced what are
widely considered the most ferocious eight minutes in boxing
history. Hearns fought for more than a decade after the second
Leonard bout, finally calling it quits following a loss to
journeyman Uriah Grant in April 2000. "When I hear people talk
about the great fights, I hear my name a lot," says Hearns, who
finished with a 59-5-1 record. "Win or lose, I guess I earned
people's respect."

Having known too many fighters who retired broke, Hearns, the
father of four, who lives with wife Renee in Southfield, Mich.,
is committed to his idea of a pension plan. He knows that he
can't make clients invest, but at least he can give them the
option. After promoting the Mike Tyson-Andrew Golota bout at The
Palace of Auburn Hills in October 2000, Hearns made headlines
three months ago with his attempt to bring the Lennox Lewis-Tyson
fight to Detroit. (It went to Memphis.) Still, his real interest
is in developing young talent. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't
want to make money," says Hearns, who expects to announce his
next card in June, "but I also want to help fighters grow. If I
can do that, the money will come." --John O'Keefe



"When I hear people talk about the great fights, I hear my name
a lot," says Hearns, who had a 59-5-1 record.