By now, you have heard of the Sunday passing of one of the legendary boxers of the 1980's, Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor. A native of Cincinnati, OH, Pryor was regarded as the greatest super lightweight of the 20th century by the Associated Press.
After falling short on a bid to make the 1976 Olympic Team (Pryor was defeated by Howard Davis, Jr.), Pryor (39-1, 35 KO's) turned pro in November of 1976 and scored a second-round TKO against Larry Smith in his hometown of Cincinnati.
On August 2, 1980, Pryor won his first world title, knocking out Antonio Cervantes in the fourth round for the WBA Super Lightweight title at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.
Pryor would make five title defenses before the first of his two legendary encounters with Alexis Arguello on November 12, 1982 in the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL. Pryor was originally scheduled to face Sugar Ray Leonard for the welterweight title but Leonard had suffered a detached retina and retired. Arguello was the betting favorite in the bout but Pryor was able to gain a knockout in the 14th round. The ending was controversial as there were claims that Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis used a tainted water bottle that helped revive Pryor after the 13th round. The bout was named the Fight of the Decade by The Ring in 1990 and the 8th greatest title bout of all time by The Ring in 1996.
After the bout, Pryor would wage a battle outside of the ring against drugs.
Pryor and Arguello would meet again on September 9, 1983 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Pryor would have an easier time, stopping Arguello in the 10th round.
Pryor would also capture the IBF crown and defend it once, winning a narrow 15-round split decision over Gary Hinton in March of 1985 in Atlantic City. Pryor would retire after that bout but come back two years later, only to suffer his only pro loss -- a seventh-round TKO-- to Bobby Joe Young on August 8, 1987 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Pryor would win three more bouts before retiring for good in 1990. Pryor would be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996.
Pryor was a constant attendee at the annual Fight Night charity boxing event at the Washington Hilton Hotel in DC in November. This year's event will be on Thursday, November 10th. It will be strange not seeing "The Hawk" in the ring. Pryor is survived by his wife, Frankie, and children Aaron, Jr., Antwan, Stephan and Elizabeth. Aaron, Jr. and Stephan continue their father's legacy in the ring.