"We Were Young Together Once": Top 20 Favorite Fighters of the 1980s, A Personal Reminiscence


#18 DONALD CURRY

For a little while, say about a year, Donald Curry was considered the best fighter in the world. Unlike most contemporary P-4-P entries, however, who short-circuit keyboards for beating squeegee men and halfway house escapees, Curry actually racked up some important wins. In less than two dozen bouts on the way to a superstardom that never was, Curry defeated Marlon Starling twice, Colin Jones, Nino LaRocca, Elio Diaz, and Milton McCrory.

Quiet, shy, and unassuming, Curry was not only a skilled technician and one of the most accurate punchers I ever saw, but he was also the inspiration for my teenage hairstyle—a regrettable mini-shag, not the full-blown Lionel Richie bush, but a more manageable variant, although no less embarrassing for that. Curry, who boasted a reported amateur record of 400-5, was as precise as a safecracker, smooth as a cat burglar, and had baby sledgehammers for hands. But it was his quiet demeanor that appealed to me most, a sharp contrast to most boxers of his day, the chaos of the Bronx neighborhood I lived in, and to the bombastic “Me Decade” in general. It was this sensitivity, however, that led to his downfall. Curry was stung by criticism of a finesse style that some found duller than Muzak and adopted a more aggressive approach that saw him skimp on a previously impenetrable defense. In addition, unable to make solid decisions that would affect the lives of his team, Curry found himself trapped in a dysfunctional camp. Curry never recovered from the hammering Lloyd Honeyghan gave him in a 1986 upset, and after being brutally knocked out by Mike McCallum in 1987, the downward spiral pulled him under like a whirlpool over the next few years—terrible knockout losses, bankruptcy, prison. In 1989 I shaved my head completely.

Here is Curry at his destructive peak in 1985 when he demolished Kronk superstar Milton McCrory in two clinical rounds. Curry and McCrory, entered the ring with a combined record of 50-0-1 and were fighting for the undisputed welterweight championship. McCrory should not have been allowed to continue after being laid out by a left hook as pure as a sonnet.

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