Thomas "Hitman" Hearns

Thomas "Hitman" Hearns Biography

Boxer (1958–)
African-American professional boxer and promoter Thomas "Hitman" Hearns won eight world titles in six weight classes, and is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


Thomas "Hitman" Hearns was born on October 18, 1958, in Memphis, Tennessee. His began boxing professionally in 1977. In 1980, he beat José "Pipino" Cuevas and won the World Boxing Association welterweight title. Hearns went on to win eight world titles in six weight classes over the course of his boxing career. He retired in 2000 and entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Early Years

Thomas "Hitman" Hearns was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 18, 1958. When Hearns was 5 years old, he and his parents relocated to Detroit, Michigan. His parents, John and Lois Hearns, divorced when he was 7. Hearns had several brothers and sisters: two from his mother's first marriage, and six from her second.

A shy child, Hearns used boxing to come out of his shell. After seeing matches on television, he first developed an interest in the sport at the age of 8. By the time he was 10 or 11, Hearns had begun training under Emanuel Steward at Detroit's Kronk Gym.

In 1967, Hearns entered a 10-year stretch as an amateur boxer. During that time, he earned merit as a knockout puncher, establishing a record of 155 wins and eight losses.

Professional Boxer

Hearns's professional boxing career began in 1977. Despite a winning streak of 17 fights by knockout, he failed to gain much public recognition at first. That changed in 1980, when Hearns beat José "Pipino" Cuevas in two rounds, earning himself the World Boxing Association welterweight title.

In 1981, Hearns's career suffered a blow when he lost the unified welterweight title to Sugar Ray Leonard.

Hearns went on to redeem himself, however, winning eight world titles in six different weight classes over the course of his boxing career—becoming, along the way, the first boxer to win world titles in four divisions and, later, the first to win five world titles in five divisions—and earning the nicknames "Hitman" and "Motor City Cobra." These titles included the World Boxing Council junior middle weight title in 1982. In 1985, Hearns suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. Half a decade later, in 1987, Hearns proved himself yet again, this time by earning both the WBC light heavyweight and WBC middleweight titles. He was likewise victorious in 1988, when he robbed James Kinchen of the World Boxing Organization super middleweight title after a grueling 12 rounds.

During a 1989 rematch against Leonard, Hearns held his own and the judges called a draw. Although Hearns boxed less frequently in the 1990s, he kept on racking up titles, including the International Boxing Organization cruiserweight title in 1990, the WBA light heavyweight title in 1991 and the World Boxing Union cruiserweight title in 1995.

Hearns fought professionally for the last time in the spring of 2000, when an ankle injury caused him to lose the cruiserweight title to Uriah Grant. He retired with a record of 59-5-1.


Still enamored with the sport, following his retirement, Hearns became a boxing promoter. In 2011, his son, Ronald Hearns, followed in his father's footsteps by challenging Felix Sturm for the middleweight title. Although the younger Hearns lost the match, he made his father proud by holding strong until the seventh round.

In 2012, another proud moment came for Thomas Hearns: After having been elected in his first eligible year, Hearns was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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