It’s Hawk Time!

The Hawk IIAaron “The Hawk” Pryor marking his prey

 Panegyric for a Wondrous Light-Welterweight

Aaron “The Hawk” Prior, the Cincinnati magician, majestically rules the realm of the rectangular arena dedicated to the macho art of prize fighting in the Jr. Welter-weight class.  He is to boxing what Richard Pryor is to comedy: gutsy, funky, adventurous, inventive, original and black.  Both artists approach their art in a fashion that epitomizes the unique style of black America.

Considered by many boxing aficionados to be “the most exciting fighter in the game,” Pryor has also convincingly demonstrated that he is a superb technician.   He is a legit practitioner of the “Sweet Science, ”  when boxing becomes such a complex, highly nuanced, athletic performance that passion and pain combine with speed and grace in some special alchemy  that combat is transformed into art.

The Hawk in Battle!

Dominating the great Alexis Aguello
AaronPryorAnd twice he stopped him before the final bell  

Many fans, as well as boxing wise guys, didn’t need The Hawk’s devastating destruction of the Great Alexis Arguello to recognize Pryor’s pugilistic gifts.  For me it was quite enough to witness his stunning performance against then Canadian Light-weight Champion, the hard punching Gaeton Hart.  It was clear that Pryor was as versatile a fighter as I have ever seen; as he out-boxed and outpunched Hart at will.

It was amusing to listen to the comments of the self-styled boxing “experts” preceding Pryor/Arguello fight.  Their comments resembled an unbroken panegyric to the invincibility of the three time Nicaraguan champion.  Over and over, one heard the opinion that Pryor was just too wild and reckless to have any real chance of defeating the cool, methodical, Arguello.

The more these “experts” pressed their arguments, the more they revealed their bias for Arguello and their blindness to the brilliant gifts of Pryor.  Strangely enough, like Jazz, a quintessentially black male art, all the big-time media critics are white males.  For the superficial observer this fact may have no special relevance, yet it is key to understanding the point of view of the clique of white guys who mold the public perception of the boxing game.

As the former Director of Public Relations for Butch Lewis Productions, which represented several black world champions – beginning with the great Michael Spinks – I know whereof I speak.  By virtue of his light complexion, straight hair, suave soft spoken manner, and executive style of dress, the average middle class white male finds it much easier to identify with Alexis Arguello than Aaron Pryor.

I have no doubt that they would all vehemently deny this.  But the treatment accorded Pryor and Arguello in the press convinces me otherwise.  One need only consider the language employed by the boxing wags to find abundant evidence for my claim.  Arguello is constantly referred to as “a complete gentleman,” who is “very intelligent,” and therefore “too classy for Pryor.”

At one point Pryor had to remind them that he was the American fighter: “Alexis Arguello is trying to take the sympathy from the home boy with that nice guy act.  There are no gentlemen in the ring!”  At no point preceding the match did Pryor give the impression that he had the slightest doubt that he would stop Arguello.

Rather Pryor regarded this as a dream match that would finally provide him the opportunity to demonstrate his conviction that pound for pound he is the best boxer in the world.  Pryor feels that he has been denied the opportunity to display his true greatness because the biggest names in the game have been avoiding him!

The list includes Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns – whom he beat as an amateur – Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Duran, et al.  With his convincing demolition of El Grand Champion Alexis Arguello, stopping him twice, The Hawk has greatly enhanced his case!  Now let’s see what other big names will step in the ring and prove their mettle.

(To see the second fight Click on the Link below.)


* This is a is a Golden Oldie

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem New York

November 1982

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