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Marvelous Marvin Hagler: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

The late, great Marvelous Marvin Hagler, fought like he had a chip permanently stuck on his shoulder. From the start of his professional boxing career in 1973 to his last fight — the long overdue blockbuster match against Sugar Ray Leonard — the Brockton, Massachusetts representative always felt like he had something to prove.

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It didn’t matter that he was part of “The Fabulous Four,” a legendary group of Hall of Fame boxers — made up of Hagler and Leonard, as well as Roberto Durán and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns — who all fought each other through the 1980s.

It didn’t matter that he reigned over the 160 pound division for close to a decade. It didn’t matter that he’s widely considered one of the greatest middleweight boxers in history. Hagler lived like the rest of the world was against him, and so he trained and fought like a hungry contender still chasing the top spot.

After all, it was Hagler who said the famous boxing words: “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pyjamas.” Plenty of boxers in history have reached the top and gotten complacent — from Mike Tyson’s legendary downfall to more recently, Andy Ruiz’s lackluster performance in his rematch against Anthony Joshua — Hagler’s words have remained timeless.

There are things that you cannot explain, but you need to follow some rules if you want to become a champion of the world like eat healthy food, go to bed early, get up early, etc. Being away from everything and everyone- this is what I call sacrifice.

Interview with Boxing Champion, Marvelous Hagler | Sports History Weekly
Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns in their 1985 bout, The War. Photo credit: AP Photo. 

Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s training routine & diet

Whenever preparing for an upcoming fight, Hagler was famous for isolating himself in Cape Cod with his team and sparring partners to focus exclusively on training. “The point of the training camp is to get away,” said Hagler. “It’s like putting yourself in jail. It’s not a question of liking it. It’s a question of having to do it.”

In 1981, the Boston Globe’s Steve Marantz shadowed Hagler during his training camp for his first defense against Venezuelan boxer Fulgencio Obelmejias. Based out of ProvinceTown Inn in Cape Cod, Marantz described the fight camp — “It’s a life fit for a Tibetan monk. No family, friends, parties, restaurants, dancing. No sex. No pastries. Lots of situps. Training camps are Spartan by definition. Hagler takes his a step farther. It is more isolated, more desolate, more single-minded than most.”

You’re supposed to seclude yourself. All the great champions did the same. Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali up on his mountain at Deer Lake. They put themselves in jail. I put myself in jail.

ISOLATION FUELS HAGLER’S INTENT | The New York Times

A New York Times profile of the same training camp painted a picture of a focused, lonely champion — “Loneliness is for rekindling the anger inside, the burning that not even the championship could douse. Loneliness is to remind him that, with the championship, there are new hurdles to overcome.”

Even Hagler’s sparring partners had never experienced anything like it before. “I’ve been to a lot of training camps but I’ve never been to one as lonely and out of the way,” said Willie Monroe, a former opponent of Hagler’s who was brought on to prepare the champ for the upcoming title bout. “There’s nothin’ to do here except sleep. I never slept so much.”

“The idea of a training camp is to build up a fighter’s discipline, control, determination and concentration,” explained Goody Petronelli, Hagler’s trainer and manager. “The body is important and so is the mind. A fighter builds up his confidence, and, to do that, he’s constantly psyching himself up.”

A typical training camp for the Brockton champion saw him training six days a week with double sessions a day. During preparations against Obelmejias, Hagler woke up early in the morning and began his roadwork at 7am, running six miles in the freezing Cape Cod winter.

After his run, Hagler was back for breakfast — “cold cereal and fruit, maybe a mixture of Corn Flakes and Sugar Pops, a pear and a glass of grapefruit juice” — and spent the rest of the day relaxing (“listening to music, reading, eating, writing letters, talking on the telephone, watching television or sleeping”) before his next training session.

At 6pm, it was time for more training; a 2-hour session focused on boxing work and strength & conditioning: several three minute rounds on the jump rope, heavy bag and speed bag, with a one minute rest in between. The same routine applied to sit-ups – three minutes work, one minute of rest.

Marantz describes Hagler’s intense boxing and conditioning routine:

Hagler gets down to business. Situps to begin with, three insidious variations to harden the abs into granite slabs. Into the ring then, with Monroe for two rounds, Styles for two rounds. No holding back, Petronelli shouting instructions, the oversized 16-ounce gloves pounding out combinations. Petronelli next, gloved hands as targets, calling for combinations, Hagler whipping the big gloves into the targets. Three rounds of this, jump rope, speed bag, mirror boxing, more exercises.

MARVIN ALONE | Boston Globe

After Hagler’s second gym session, “his day will end with the walk through the dark corridors and a dinner cooked by Anna, the novelist.” Marantz observes that “Hagler seems happiest, most relaxed, after his evening workout.”

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

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