Boxing Hall of Famer Aaron Pryor, remembered for scintillating duels with Nicaraguan Alexis Arguello, died Sunday at the age of 60 after a long battle with heart disease.
“We are heartbroken and sad to announce that our beloved Aaron passed away at home surrounded by his family at 5:57 a.m.” Frankie Pryor, his widow, said in a statement from the family home near Cincinnati, Ohio.
“He was known around the world as ‘The Hawk’ but to our family he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.”
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Pryor built a 39-1 record with 35 knockouts during a career that was interrupted by drug addiction.
His biggest moments in the ring were his two junior welterweight victories over Arguello. Pryor’s first bout against Arguello is still considered one of the greatest fights in boxing history.
He scored a 14th-round knockout to win the match at Miami’s Orange Bowl on November 12, 1982, retaining his World Boxing Association crown.
The two fighters squared off in a rematch on September 9, 1983 in Las Vegas. Pryor knocked out Arguello in the 10th round and then announced his retirement. He returned nine months later, however, successfully defending his title for the final time by defeating Gary Hinton with a 15-round split decision.
It would be 29 months before he fought again as addiction led to the loss of his title due to inactivity. Upon his return to the ring he was knocked out in the seventh round by journeyman Bobby Joe Young in August of 1987. He retired for good in 1990.
Among the boxing legends tweeting condolences was fellow Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard:
“My friend and hero of millions of Fight fans has left us! Aaron Pryor RIP Champion and you will be missed. Love you”