Universal’s new sports documentary, ‘I Am Duran’, highlights and follows the personal life and public career of former world champion, Panamanian boxer and cultural legend Roberto Duran over the course of 84 minutes. The film is available for Digital Download on June 4.
Director Mat Hodgson assembled a montage of Duran’s old, boxing match footage, news clippings, and a plethora of A-lister interviews, who played a prominent role in Duran’s, also referred to as ‘Manos de Piedra’, or Hands of Stone’s, life both in and outside of the ring.
Both Duran’s son, Robin, and wife, Felicidad make appearances in the film, in addition to Sylvester Stallone, where Duran was his sparring partner in Rocky II, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Robert De Niro, and previous rival-turned-lifelong friend, Sugar Ray Leonard. The interviews piece together the man inside the gloves and acts as a cinematic portrait of the fighter’s highest and lowest points.
We had a chance to sit down with the former rivals, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, in order to get a better understanding of their relationship, and Duran’s past. (The following is based off of Duran’s translator.)
The Knockturnal: Hello, Mr. Duran. How are you?
Roberto Duran: Very good. Fine. Thank you.
The Knockturnal: The film starts out talking about your childhood and the neighborhood you grew up in, being just 200 meters from the Panama Canal; can you tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up in that neighborhood?
Roberto Duran (translated): So basically, in my time, the neighborhood wasn’t that bad, you know. You had a lot of people working in the Canal and the people living in that area, were the people working in the Canal. Engineers– engineering as well.
The Knockturnal: My next question is for Mr. Leonard. The documentary highlights how during the 80’s, you were America’s sweetheart in the ring, and the first fight was depicted as good vs. evil. What was it like for you to have that narrative leading up to the fight?
Sugar Ray Leonard: Well, that’s what it appeared to be, because I was, I guess, more cautious of what I said, of what came out of my mouth for the most part. And when I met Roberto, after we signed the contract, he was a little more feisty and a little more fiery, and he said things and gave me hand gestures and what have you. So it was kind of good against bad, if you will. That’s the way they projected it. And we didn’t like each other, because we came from the same sort of beginnings, although his were a little more harsh. I came from very humble beginnings. But after the Olympics of 76′, I became the golden boy, and that was resentful and that was looked down upon, and our fight was about good and bad. And look where we are now, I mean I love this guy. You know, I love this guy.
Roberto Duran: I love you too!
The Knockturnal: Awesome! Thank you. Mr. Duran, so can you just tell me a little bit about how your culture and your upbringing contributed to the strength and the tenacity that you brought into the ring?
Roberto Duran (translated): So my neighborhood, back at the time, was really poor. So most of the people who lived there at the time in Chorrillo, they were actually guards. So many of the houses in the area were actually made of wood and they were actually very close to Noriega’s headquarters to make sure, you know. And I actually lived in a house made of stone, which was different. So when I was a kid living in the area, there were actually a lot of bars that were built by the people building the Canal. So [I] was actually born there, [I] was born on site in the arms of [my] grandmother. And also, the people who were working there, once they left the area, they left, leaving everything behind. And when [I] was born, [I] never made it to the hospital. So [I] was basically born at the hands of my grandmother in the house made of stone. And [I] did a lot of shoe cleaning, in the area at the time [I] was growing up.
The Knockturnal: Thank you for sharing that. My last question, for the both of you, just to anyone who watches this film, what do you want them to know? What do you want them to take away from it?
Sugar Ray Leonard: That Roberto Duran, the individual, the man, the champion, wasn’t just a fighter; he was a man. A very proud man, and he had to undertake so much to reach his level of success. And he did it for his family. He did it for his family, which I did the same thing.
Roberto Duran (translated): So basically, a lot of time has gone by, but when people think about the time period, that people think of the two of us better as a pair. That I actually feel very, very proud of that.
Check out a trailer for the documentary below!