Ten-Count for Aaron Pryor

by
Ten-Count for Aaron Pryor
“I just kept throwing punches. I said, ‘They are not taking this fight from me.’” (Photo: AP)

Ten-Count for Aaron Pryor

by
Ten-Count for Aaron Pryor
“I just kept throwing punches. I said, ‘They are not taking this fight from me.’” (Photo: AP)

“I just kept throwing punches. I said, ‘They are not taking this fight from me.’” (Photo: AP)
“I just kept throwing punches. I said, ‘They are not taking this fight from me.’” (Photo: AP)

“If I lose it’s over. For me, it’s either $4.95 an hour or world champion.”—Aaron Pryor

Former WBA World super lightweight champion Aaron Pryor passed away Sunday after a long fight against heart disease. He was 60 years old and had been in hospice care for the last three months.

Pryor was born on October 20, 1955, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  A former National AAU lightweight champion and silver medalist at the Pan American Games, he was also an alternate to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and compiled a record of 204 wins and 16 losses before turning pro in November of that year.

“The Hawk” reeled off 31 wins with 29 of those wins coming by way of knockout.

Pryor won the WBA World super lightweight title on August 2, 1980, at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, when he knocked out reigning and defending champion Antonio Cervantes (87-10-3), the legendary Kid Pambelé from San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, in the fourth round of a scheduled 15.

Cervantes had not lost a fight in four years. He held the WBA title for three of them and defended the belt six times.

But Kid Pambelé was facing a fighter with killer instinct in spades. Aaron Pryor could box. He could punch. He could do it all. He destroyed Cervantes. It was a thing of beauty. It is a joy to watch.

“Everybody doubted me after the Olympics, you know, after I lost to Howard Davis by close decision,” said Pryor after the fight with Cervantes. “Nobody wanted give me a break, so I had to make my break.”

He would defend the belt 10 times before moving up in weight to junior welter, but his 1982 defense at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, against three-division champion and current against WBC World lightweight champion Alexis Arguello was one for the ages.

The Ring called it Fight of the Decade.

“I just kept throwing punches, kept throwing punches,” said Pryor on HBO’s “Legendary Nights” documentary devoted to the two fights between the these two giants. “I said, ‘They are not taking this fight from me.’”

Pryor vacated the WBA title and in 1984 won the IBF title by defeating Nick Furlando. He lost the belt to unheralded Bobby Joe Young in 1987, after having not fought in two and a half years.

After winning three more fights, Pryor retired in 1990 with a record of 39-1 (35 KOs).

Despite having earned over $5 million between 1980 and 1985, Pryor became a casualty of the crack epidemic that swept through America’s inner cities in the 1980s.

He was first arrested in 1987. In 1991 he spent three months in jail after pleading guilty to drug-related offenses. Back on the streets and homeless and weighing 100 pounds, Pryor, who had contemplated suicide, was rushed to a hospital with bleeding ulcers and almost died.

Pryor got and stayed clean in 1993. He became an eloquent spokesperson against the dangers of drugs.

Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame of in 1996.

Rest in peace, champ.

 

 

 

This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.


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