delanceyplace.com 1/16/09 - no mas
In today's excerpt - one of the most famous boxing matches in the history of the sport, the 1980 rematch between Olympic champion 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and the Panamanian legend Roberto Duran. Duran, who was perhaps boxing's fiercest fighter and who had bested Leonard in their first fight, stunned Leonard and the sporting world when he simply quit mid-fight declaring 'No mas' (no more):
"Duran's surrender was so stunning that it all but overshadowed the brilliance of Leonard's performance, but, Ray pointed out 'I made him quit—and making Roberto Duran quit was even better than knocking him out. The fact that he quit and the way he did it doesn't take anything away from my victory. I'm the champion because he couldn't change and I could.' ...
"The morning after the No Mas fight, [Panama's dictator] Gen. Omar Torrijos angrily ordered Duran and his entire thirty-six-member traveling party to return to Panama immediately, but the boxer ignored his country's ruler and went to Miami instead. It was weeks later that he went back to Panama, only to discover that in his absence his mother's home had been vandalized, his own house stoned. Newspapers questioned not only his courage but his masculinity. A makeshift billboard reading 'Duran Is a Traitor' was painted on the seawall alongside La Avenue Balboa in Panama City. He heard himself described, variously, as un cobarde (a coward), una gallina (a chicken), and as, simply, maricon, or homosexual.
"And in perhaps the unkindest cut of all, the Panamanian government had repealed the special tax exemption it had granted Duran as a 'National Hero.' When he came home and tried to cash his $8 million letter of credit, the government grabbed the first $2 million off the top.
"Whatever might actually have been going on in Roberto Duran's mind when he said 'No mas' he could hardly have anticipated the consequences. He became the butt of jokes, and even his most ardent admirers deserted him in droves. 'His image had been destroyed in a single moment,' said Bobby Goodman. 'When he got back to Panama, he didn't even dare show his face. He lived like a prisoner in his own home.' ...
"It was, in any case, a moment that would haunt Duran for the rest of his life. Worse still, he had turned his despised adversary into a boxing hero. Sugar Ray Leonard would no longer be regarded as boxing's pretty boy. He had added a new scalp to his collection. He was now the man who had made Roberto Duran quit."