Aaron Pryor

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Class of 1996
Modern Category
Hall of Fame bio:click
World Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee

Name: Aaron Pryor
Alias: Hawk
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Died: 2016-10-09 (Age:60)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 168cm
Reach: 175cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Aaron Pryor Gallery

Official Biography:
(As sent by Mrs. Frankie Pryor, Aaron Pryor's wife, to BoxRec.com)

Witnessing the human hurricane that was Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor was like seeing Henry Armstrong and the whirlwind has not been seen since. Pryor's frenetic, punch-a-second style endeared him to fans around the globe. To the chants of "Hawk Time, Hawk Time," Pryor brought one thrilling moment after another to the crowds who thronged to see his fights during the 1980s.

Pryor, born in Cincinnati in 1955, was a terror in the amateur ranks (204-16), culminating as an alternate on the 1976 Olympic team. He turned pro in 1976 after the Olympics and quickly tore through the lightweight and junior welterweight ranks, mowing down such seasoned contenders as Johnny Summerhays, Johnny Copeland, Norman Goins, and Alfonso Frazer. His complete domination of his competition earned him a shot at legendary Colombian champion Antonio Cervantes in August of 1980. That night in Cincinnati, at Riverfront Coliseum, Pryor dismantled Cervantes in four rounds, and a star was born.

Pryor easily moved through the Jr. Welterweight ranks, and in 1982, Pryor and Alexis Arguello would face off in what was later named the "Fight of the Decade" by The Ring magazine. Pryor and Arguello engaged in toe-to-toe warfare for 14 rounds before the great Arguello finally succumbed to the equally great Pryor. The rematch, a year later, was much easier for Pryor, and he took out Alexis in ten rounds.

The Hawk defended his title eleven times and retired in 1991 with a 39-1 (35 KOs) record. As the WBA Jr. Welterweight Champ from 1980-1983 and the IBF Jr. Welterweight Champ from 1983-1985, Pryor firmly established his place in boxing history. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001. In December 1999, the Associated Press voted Aaron Pryor as the "Greatest Jr. Welterweight of the Century."

Pryor went through some hard times due to drug addiction, but with the determination that made him a great fighter, "The Hawk" kicked his habit and is once again flying high. Pryor lives in his hometown of Cincinnati with his wife, Frankie Pryor, and their four children—Aaron, Jr., Antwan, Stephan, and Elizabeth. Pryor is an ordained deacon at New Friendship Baptist Church and travels the world making personal appearances and spreading his anti-drug message. Pryor remains active in the sport of boxing, training both professional and Golden Gloves amateur boxers. The Pryor boxing legacy continues today, with Aaron Pryor Jr. and Stephan Pryor following in their dad's footsteps.

Amateur Achievements

  • Amateur Record: 204-16
  • 1973 United States vs. Ireland Dual Meet at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois: Stopped Damian McDermott in one round at 125 lbs. [1] [2]
  • 1973 National AAU Champion (132 lbs). Outpointed Robert Newton of Boston, Massachusetts. [3]
  • 1974 National AAU Finalist (132 lbs). Outpointed by Hilmer Kenty of Detroit, Michigan. [4]
  • 1975 National Golden Gloves Champion (132 lbs). Outpointed Curtis Harris of Paterson, New Jersey. [5]
  • 1975 Pan American Games Silver Medalist (132 lbs). Disqualified (low blow) in the second round against Chris Clarke of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. [6] [7]
  • 1976 National Golden Gloves Champion (132 lbs). Outpointed Thomas Hearns of Detroit, Michigan. [8]
  • 1976 United States Olympic Trials Finalist (132 lbs). Outpointed by Howard Davis Jr. of Glen Cove, New York. [9]
  • 1976 United States Olympic Box-Offs: Outpointed by Howard Davis Jr. of Glen Cove, New York. Pryor was an alternate at 132 lbs for the U.S. Olympic team. [10] [11]

Career Notes

  • Buddy LaRosa, founder of LaRosa's Pizzeria, was Pryor's manager.
  • Pryor, fighting in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, knocked out Antonio Cervantes in four rounds to win the WBA Junior Welterweight Championship on August 2, 1980.
  • In December 1980, Pryor rejected an offer of $500,000 to fight Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC Welterweight Championship because he wanted more money. When the amount was increased to $750,000, he rejected that as well. [12]
  • Pryor signed to fight WBC Super Lightweight Champion Saoul Mamby in a unification bout for $1 million. The bout was tentatively scheduled for February 7, 1981. However, the fight fell apart when the promoter, Harold Smith, disappeared amid allegations that he was involved in a $21.3 million fraud against Wells Fargo National Bank. Smith, whose real name was Ross Fields, was later sentenced to ten years in prison after he was convicted of 29 counts of fraud and embezzlement. [13]
  • Pryor was offered $750,000 to fight Roberto Duran at Madison Square Garden in April 1981. However, Pryor's new attorney told him not to sign anything until he worked out a new contract with his manager. By the time a new agreement had been worked out, the chance to fight Duran was gone. [14] [15]
  • Pryor agreed to fight Sugar Ray Leonard in the fall of 1982 for $750,000, but Leonard first had to defend his welterweight title against Roger Stafford in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, 1982. The Sunday before that bout, Pryor was driving to Buffalo from his Cincinnati home to taunt Leonard, to hype their planned bout, when he heard on his car radio the news that Leonard had suffered a detached retina in his left eye and the fight was off. Pryor said, "I pulled off to the side of the road and I cried." [16]
  • Pryor knocked out Alexis Arguello in 14 rounds in Miami on November 12, 1982. The Ring named the bout "Fight of the Decade" in 1990 and the eighth greatest title fight of all-time in the 1996. After the fight, there was controversy over a water bottle used by Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis, between rounds 13 and 14. Microphones caught Lewis telling cutman Artie Curley, "Give me the other bottle, the one I mixed." It seemed to revive Pryor. Coming out quickly for the 14th round, Pryor landed a barrage of unanswered blows before the referee stopped the fight. Many speculated that there was something illegal in the bottle, but nobody checked the contents and the Miami Boxing Commission failed to administer post-fight urine tests to the boxers. Lewis and Pryor steadfastly denied that there was anything illegal in the bottle. Curley said the bottle contained peppermint schnapps to settle Pryor's upset stomach. In the 2008 documentary Assault in the Ring, former Lewis-trained boxer Luis Resto revealed that Lewis would break apart antihistamine pills and pour the medicine into his water, giving him greater lung capacity in the later rounds of a fight. [17] [18]
  • In July 1983, Pryor signed a three-year exclusive promotional agreement with Sylvester Stallone's Tiger Eye Promotions and the Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The contract called for Tiger Eye and the Sands to act as partners in promoting Pryor's fights. [19]
  • After Panama Lewis was banned from boxing for removing the padding from Luis Resto's gloves before he fought Billy Collins Jr. on June 16, 1983, Pryor hired Emanuel Steward to train him for his rematch with Alexis Arguello on September 9, 1983, which Pryor won by a 10th-round knockout. Pryor was later trained by Richie Giachetti.
  • In October 1983, Pryor said he would not defend the WBA Junior Welterweight Championship against Johnny Bumphus, the No. 1-ranked contender, and sent the WBA a letter announcing his retirement. Robert Buechner, Pryor's attorney, said, "I think that it's correct to say he would certainly reconsider his decision to retire if there's someone on the scene he thought had the same marketability and fighting ability he has." Officially, Pryor was stripped of the title. [20] [21]
  • Pryor announced in March 1984 that he was ending his retirement. "I never really retired," he said. "I just rested." He successfully defended the junior welterweight championship of the newly formed IBF twice before he was stripped of the title in December 1985 due to inactivity. [22] [23]
  • Pryor was out of boxing for 2½ years due to drug and legal issues. A shell of his former self, he returned to the ring on August 8, 1987, and was knocked out in seven rounds by Bobby Joe Young.
  • Pryor had trouble getting a boxing license late in his career because of eye problems. He underwent surgery on his left eye in January 1988 to remove a cataract and repair a detached retina. Pryor was declared legally blind in his left eye, with vision of 20/400. It improved to 20/70 with corrective lenses. He was denied a boxing license in Nevada, New York and California. [24] [25]
  • The Ring named Pryor the second greatest junior welterweight of all-time in 1994, and the Associated Press named him "Junior Welterweight Fighter of Century" in 1999. [26]

Professional Record

Championship Record

  • 10 opponents (8 by KO) beaten for World Super Lightweight Title.

Preceded by:
Antonio Cervantes
WBA Light Welterweight Champion
1980 Aug 2 – 1983 Oct
Succeeded by:
Johnny Bumphus
Preceded by:
Inaugural Champion
IBF Light Welterweight Champion
1984 Jun 22 – 1985 Dec
Succeeded by:
Gary Hinton