At Long Last: Marvelous Marvin to Finally Get His Statue in the 'City of Champions'


By Jeffrey Freeman

Not much good news comes out of Brockton, Massachusetts these days but I’ve got some.

Former undisputed middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler will be posthumously honored in the city he helped keep on the boxing map with a life-sized bronze statue produced by Brodin Studios in Kimball, Minnesota. The statue of Hagler, “in an action stance” will be unveiled on June 13th at a small space near to where the old Petronelli Gym was once located.

According to Hagler’s widow Kay, the space is now called the Marvelous Marvin Hagler Park.

That date, June 13, 2024 will be on the 43-year anniversary of Hagler’s 1981 rematch with Vito Antuofermo at the Boston Garden. As the new champion, Hagler was making the second defense of the world title he won in 1980 from Alan Minter. Hagler’s first shot at the title came in 1979 against Antuofermo in Las Vegas and was ruled a draw. The rematch was a mismatch.


The unveiling, scheduled for Thursday June 13 at 11 am, will also fall on the 31-year anniversary of Hagler’s 1993 induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. Will thousands show up to celebrate like they did when another Brockton boxer was remembered?

Back in 2012, when a 22-foot-tall Rocky Marciano statue was put up by the WBC, many asked why Hagler didn’t also have a statue in Brockton and would he ever get one? The answer is yes.

Somebody finally did something for Hagler. Before he died in 2023, longtime Marciano family friend Charlie Tartaglia told me the reason he put up a bronze plaque for Hagler at Massasoit College with his own money was because as he put it, “Nobody ever did nothin’ for Hagler.”

Brockton state representative Gerry Cassidy secured the $150,000 needed from the state to build and maintain the long overdue statue in tribute to Hagler who died in 2021 at the age of 66.

Hagler’s new sculpture will be on display approximately two miles away from Rocky’s. It won’t be as tall as Marciano’s towering memorial but that’s fine, Rocky was a heavyweight while Marvin was a middleweight.

“This testament to a true hometown sports and community icon will be a permanent monument to one of the greatest champions from our 'City of Champions,'” said Brockton Mayor Robert F. Sullivan in a public statement announcing the marvelous news.

The legendary physique of Hagler in his prime is befitting of a likeness commemorating it. Somebody on Facebook wrote, “I guarantee his jaw and muscles were stronger than his statue is going to be.” Another Facebooker wrote, “A fitting tribute to a boxing great gone too soon.”

Hagler reigned as middleweight champion of the world from 1980 to 1987 and during this time he carved out a reputation as one of the greatest middleweight champions in the history of boxing. Hagler was a member of the “Four Kings” which also included Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns and Roberto Duran. Hagler beat Duran and Hearns but lost to Leonard.

One of the reasons it took so long for Hagler to be honored in this way is that despite his greatness in the boxing ring, Hagler had another reputation in Brockton and that was as somebody with the capacity for violence against women, most notably his ex-wife Bertha.

Domestic incidents between the pair were common and in her complaint against Hagler, Bertha alleged that she lived in fear of Marvin; that he put his hands on her and threw a large rock at her car. Regardless of all this, Brocktonians are happy and excited to see Hagler and his surviving family finally get what’s coming to him even if it will come three years after Hagler passed away.

Still, not everyone in the City of Champions is so pleased with the planned placement of the new statue. As mentioned, the Hagler memorial will be located a couple miles away from Marciano’s.

“Hagler’s statue belongs at Brockton High School,” says Mark Casieri, owner and caretaker of Rocky Marciano’s childhood home located at 168 Dover Street. Casieri knows a thing or two about Brockton boxing. “It belongs there alongside Rocky’s statue so that the youth coming up through the school system are able to know the sports heroes that came out of Brockton.”

Brockton High School has been in the news recently but for all the wrong reasons. Violence and debauchery at the high school has gotten so bad that politicians considered bringing in military units of the National Guard to quell the unprecedented unrest. It’s ironic but Brockton has become like Newark, NJ, the city that Hagler’s mother moved him away from to protect him.

As a young middleweight just starting out as a professional fighter, Hagler fought nine of his early bouts at the Brockton High School gym including his pro debut against Terry Ryan in 1973.

For the record, I reached out to Brodin Studios for some information about the statue (its official height and weight? What fight is the action stance from?) but they are playing it very close to the chest, saying only what an honor it was to build it for Hagler and the entire Brockton community.

The Marvelous One is finally getting his statue in the City of Champions. Better late than never.

Photo insert: Marvin Marvin and Vito Antuofermo (undated; circa 2010)

*** Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words, Freeman Covers Boxing for the Sweet Science in New England.
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After stopping Vito the Mosquito on cuts in the bloody Boston rematch, Hagler said, “I knew he wasn’t the same guy I fought back then in 79 because he was much too easy.” Hagler also thanked Vito for helping him buy his mother a house!
The Hagler statue is unveiled. 🤩


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A couple more of the new Hagler statue. 🤩


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