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Hands of Stone by Christian Giudice

Release date: 04th February, 2008
Publisher: Milo Books

List Price: £7.99
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Hands of Stone by Christian Giudice

4 price: £7.99

When Roberto Duran told Sugar Ray Leonard "No mas" - no more - and went on to lose the second of their epic fights, he also (temporarily) forfeited the respect of his beloved Panamanians.
How cruel that a man who gave much of his wealth away to other Panamanians should be remembered for this awful moment.

No-one could question Duran's courage for his style of boxing ensured he never took a backward step and it is to Christian Giudice's credit that he makes every effort to repair Duran's reputation. Published in hardback two years ago, this week, the paperback is released and anyone contemplating putting a book aside for their holidays should snap this one up.

Duran's tales reads like a Hollywood movie. Brought up by his mother in extreme poverty, he learned his trade on the streets. The story goes that as his mother went into labour, his maternal grandmother went looking for his father, then womanising in a nearby bar, and laid him out with a single punch before returning home to assist with the labour. Aggression was clearly in Duran's genes.

An athletic and strong boy, he had a trainer before he was 10, by which time he was earning a dollar a fight, most of which he handed over to his mother. As a teenager, his progress was impressive and a string of successes brought him to the attention of promoters.

He would never refuse a fight - be it with a horse (which he won) or a policeman (which he lost) and ended up in jail.

In jail, he became friendly with a Peruvian wrestler who protected him and he became friends with inmates who were promised tickets to his future fights. Released from prison, Duran focused on becoming a world champion and by 1972, he head won the WBA lightweight title in New York where he beat Scotland's Ken Buchanan.
Duran went on to dominate the lightweight division, eventually unifying its titles before moving up to welterweight where he could to take on Sugar Ray Leonard.

The Panamanian won their first contest but was clearly unfit in the second. It was then that he committed boxing's cardinal sin, something he cannot explain, although one suspects frustration was the main reason.

Afterwards, he was forced to seek fresh challenges and he succeeded with a vengeance, taking the world light-middleweight title and thus setting up a succession of marvellous title bouts against Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns.

Duran's reputation was completed salvaged by the time he beat Iran Barkley to win the WBC middleweight title in 1989, but like many boxers, he didn't know when to stop, ironic when considering what happened in his fight against Leonard.

It's estimated that during the course of a career that lasted more than three decades, Duran ploughed through up to $60 million, much of it simply given away to friends. He may not have much money left, but he has regained Panama's respect and one suspects this is much more important to him.

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