History | Oct 18 2018

On This Day: Thomas Hearns, the original Hit Man, was born

John Dennen looks back on the incredible career of Thomas Hearns
thomas hearns
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

FORGED in the heat and sparring wars of Detroit’s Kronk gym, Thomas Hearns helped make the name of that intimidating production line. Afforded the opportunity of greatness by the rivals he got to fight, Hearns never shirked from a challenge.

Tall with tremendous reach, Hearns had knockout potential in either fist, belied by his slim appearance. That provided him with the components of a fearsome operator and he put them to such good use he appeared unbeatable. Not a noted banger as an amateur, he brought the power out his long frame as he developed. Turning pro Hearns had 17 fights before he found someone who could last the course with him.

In a remarkable age for the sport, Hearns had the courage to go in with anyone. He may not have beaten them all but the “Hitman” produced some true classics. The unbridled ferocity of the three rounds he shared, at middleweight, with Marvin Hagler are unforgettable. He had two showdowns with Sugar Ray Leonard who emerged as the greatest of their era.