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Showtime's new docu-series shines light on golden era of boxing

·Combat columnist
·2 min read
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From 1980-89, there was no social media to help sensationalize their bouts. Cable TV was still in its infancy. Pay-per-view as we know it today did not exist. A public internet was still a concept.

And yet, four boxers in the era after Muhammad Ali’s retirement managed to captivate not only the sport but the world. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran are not only four of the greatest boxers ever to walk the earth, they were modern-day rivals whose nine battles defined a decade in the sport.

Showtime will broadcast a four-part documentary on their lives, times and rivalries beginning on June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT called “The Kings.” With new and archival interviews, the documentary uses the words of the fighters themselves and those who were around them to put them and their accomplishments into historical perspective.

It’s an in-depth look at their rivalry as a microcosm of the world around them.

“These four men defined an era in boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, the president of Showtime Sports. “Their individual stories, forever linked by the spectacular battles they waged, reflect a tumultuous period in American culture and history. 'The Kings' takes the viewer beyond the glorious action of some of history’s most memorable prizefights to illuminate each man’s dramatic journey and the societal context that made them stars of sports and popular culture.”

The four were similar in talent but different in style and substance. From 1979-85, one of them was named Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America every year except 1982.

Leonard was the golden boy who rose to fame after winning a gold medal for a strong U.S. team at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Duran was the proud, gritty Panamanian who started at lightweight and became one of the most feared, and successful, fighters in the world. Hearns was the powerful puncher from Detroit. Hagler, who died in March, was the blue-collar worker from New England who didn’t get the respect he deserved until he’d beaten everyone in his way and only the other kings were left in his path.

"The Kings" is a must-see series for boxing fans and for those who lived through the decade.

Sportscaster and former welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard holds up the arm and points at boxer Robert Duran after Duran defeated Davey Moore to win the WBC Junior Middleweight crown. New York, June 17, 1983.
Sportscaster and former welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard holds up the arm and points at boxer Robert Duran after Duran defeated Davey Moore to win the WBC junior middleweight crown in New York on June 17, 1983.

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