Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Hearns, Thomas

Boxing great Thomas Hearns was born in Grand Junction, Tennessee on October 18th, 1958. Hearns moved to Detroit at age five and started boxing at a young age, compiling an amateur record of 155-8. In 1977 at age 19 he won a Golden Gloves championship and was named the nation’s “Outstanding National Amateur Boxer.” That same year he turned professional under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward at Detroit’s famous Kronk Gym and soon became one of the world’s greatest boxing champions.  

The devasting puncher became the first boxer in history to win five world titles in five different weight divisions. During his career Hearns fought other well-known boxers including Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. Nicknamed the “Motor City Cobra” and “Hitman,” in 1980 he carried a 28-0 record into a world title match and ended Mexico’s Pipino Cuevas’s four-year reign by beating him by technical knockout in the second round.  

In 1981, he fought Sugar Ray Leonard for the world welterweight championship in what was dubbed “The Showdown,” a legendary fight in which Hearns suffered his first professional defeat in the 14th round. Eight years later in a famous rematch with Leonard for the World Boxing Council super-middleweight title, the judges scored the fight a controversial draw. 

Hearns holds six world titles and was named “Fighter of the Year” by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1980 and 1984.  He boxed until 2006 and registered a pro ledger of 61-5-1 with 48 knockouts. In 2012 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 



International Boxing Classic program, August 16, 1977

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