During the heyday of the Four Kings of boxing, I had clear favorites:

  • “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler – a tough-as-nails favorite
  • “Sugar” Ray Leonard – who didn’t love him?
  • Thomas “The Hitman” Hearnes – great bad guy
  • Roberto Durán  – the “other” one

Yeah, during this era, Roberto Durán was someone I thought of as “the other one.” I had no real opinion about him at all. Because if this, I didn’t know a lot about him. “Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”) as his fans knew him, was a fascinating story that the film I Am Durán  tells expertly.

Yes, a lot of boxers come from tough beginnings – the mean streets. But, Roberto’s background seemed just a bit more humble than even the best rags-to-riches tale of any boxer. Director, Mat Hodgson tells a compelling story that is impossible to turn off.

With cameos from a host of fighters and fight-related celebs, you WILL become a fan of Roberto Durán even if you disliked him back in the day. Again, I have to credit Hodgson for telling a great story as the film intertwines Durán’s rise and struggles with the political unrest of his home country, Panama.

The final sequence featuring his 1989 fight against Iran Barkley for the WBC Middleweight Title was brilliantly intercut with footage of the United States invasion of Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega. It is a visceral integration of boxing action, violent military scenes against a background of music building to a crescendo. It’s almost enough to make you say “No Mas”… almost.

by Chris Doelle

Rating 9 of 10