Produced on June 16, 1951, in El Chorrillo, Panama, Durn increased from poverty to become well-known professional fighter. Known for his striking power, he won world championships in four weight classes, though his name took a hit with his “no ms” loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
His dad, Margarito, a Mexican immigrant serving in the U.S. Army, was transferred to Arkansas when Durn was a young lad. Growing up in poverty, Durn hustled for cash by shining shoes, selling papers and dancing on the roads. He learned to box in the Neco de La Guardia Fitness Center, and turned professional in the age of 16.
Slim and starving, Durn powered his way up the ranks as a young combatant. On June 26, 1972, he scored a 13-round TKO of Scotsman Ken Buchanan to clam the WBA Lightweight tournament. He suffered his first loss against 31 triumphs in a non-title light welterweight fight against Esteban De Jess after that year, then rang up another unbelievable run of 41 consecutive triumphs.
In those days, Durn joined remarkable speed using a fearsome tenacity and strong punches that earned him the nickname “Manos de Piedra” (Hands of Stone). After conquering De Jess to add the WBC lightweight title to his group, Durn abdicated his belts in February 1979 to move up to the welterweight class.
Their rematch on Nov. 25, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, finished in bizarre manner; the typically constant Durn refused to answer the bell in the eighth round, enabling Leonard to recover his title. The bearing icon is the fact that Durn pleaded from the fight by replicating “no ms” (no more), although fighter insists he never said those words.
Durn moved up another weight class, as well as on June 16, 1983 his 32nd birthday he quit Davey Moore in eight rounds to win the WBA Light Middleweight tournament. However he conceded the title in a brutal slugfest with Marvin Hagler in his first defense that November, and withstood a second-round knockout in the hands of Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns the subsequent summer. He lost a second time to Sugar Ray Leonard in a match for the WBC Super Middleweight title after that year, and stayed a game, yet diminished competition during the following ten years.
At age 49, Durn won a 12-round decision over Pat Lawlor to claim the Super Middleweight title in the periphery NBA organization. Durn suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung in an automobile accident after that year, and formally retired in January 2002 having a career record of 103-16-0 and 70 knockouts. Among the few boxers to win sanctioned tournaments in four weight classes and compete professionally across five decades, he could be regarded as among the best pound-for-pound fighters ever.
Durn met his dad for the very first time after a 1976 fight in La, and they invented a good relationship. Durn stayed active as a boxing promoter after retiring in the sport. He was inducted to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006 as well as the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.