By Kid Hersh
Thomas “Hitman” Hearns was born on this day, Oct. 18 1956, in Memphis, Tennessee. He grew up in Detroit and — as illustrated by his second nickname, “Motor City Cobra” — would always be identified with that city.
Best known for his knockout power, Tommy was the first fighter to become a four weight division champion and would go on to become the first five weight class champ as well. He finished his career with a record of 61-5-1 with 48 knockouts.
Tommy had devastating power but to this boxing writer the fight that sticks out most (aside from the war with Marvelous Marvin Hagler) is his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. It was in that fight that a fan can really get a feel for just how uber talented Hearns really was as he out-boxed Leonard for the majority of the fight before Leonard finally got to him. Had the fight been scheduled for 12 rounds instead of 15, Hearns would have theoretically won.
I also believe that aside from his slick boxing not being talked about enough, Tommy had an underrated chin. Many will disagree with this opinion. Indeed, the conventional wisdom is that his chin was a deficiency. But in his prime Tommy was stopped only twice, and both were losses to absolute legends in Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. In his prime, it took an elite fighter to crack his chin.
These days Tommy makes frequent appearances at boxing events and memorabilia shows. There have been rumors about him opening a gym over the years, and while this has not happened, it would not surprise this writer to see it happen down the road as it seems a perfect fit for his restless boxing mind.
Happy 58th birthday to Thomas Hearns, an indelible boxing legend.