Monday, June 10, 2013

Review of "Hit Man: The Thomas Hearns Story"


“Hit Man: The Thomas Hearns Story” by Damian Hughes and Brian Hughes


Non-fiction, boxing, biography, championship


May 4, 2011


272 pages (Paperback)


4 of 5 stars (very good)


Thomas (Tommy) Hearns was considered one of the most ferocious punchers during the heyday of great welterweight fighters in the 1980’s.   This biography of his life and his career, which focuses more heavily on the “career” portion, is detailed and well researched.   Some of his more epic fights are described in rich detail.

One of those which I thoroughly enjoyed, both as a fan of Hearns during his career and as a reader of this book, is the epic 1985 fight with Marvelous Marvin Hagler that was billed as simply “The War.”   While it lasted only eight minutes with Hagler knocking out Hearns, it is still remembered as “the most electrifying eight minutes of mayhem ever seen in a ring.”   Both men were punching with fearless abandon and no thoughts of defense.  Hagler landed the knockout blow despite having his vision seriously impaired by the blood flowing from his cuts.   Hearns was impaired by his opponent’s power and will, but it was the fight that defined his legacy, even more than his accomplishment of winning the championship in five different weight classes.
While this was the fight with the most description and is the best remembered fight in Hearns’ career, the other major fights, including all of those which resulted in a new championship, are documented well in this book.   Hearns’ drive for fighting certain opponents such as Sugar Ray Leonard and Hagler is a constant source of motivation.   The relationship between the boxer and his trainer/promoter, which was an on/off/on love affair, is also well written with viewpoints from both men’s point of view. 

Overall, this was a very good book and should be read by anyone who enjoyed boxing’s golden years of the 1980’s or is a fan of the boxer.

Did I skim?

No, with one exception.   In the chapter describing Hearns’s 1983 bout against Roberto Duran, much of the information the Hughes brothers cited came from Christian Guidance’s biography on Duran, which I had previously read.   Therefore, I skimmed that part until the recap of the actual fight started.

Did I learn something new?

A few things I already knew were explained in more detail than I already knew such as Hearns’s falling out with his longtime trainer Emmanuel Steward.   This and other aspects of Hearns’s life and career are told in good detail.

One very interesting fact that I did not know is that Hearns wanted to be known as the “Motor City Cobra” instead of “Hit Man”, because he was sensitive about the latter tag when Detroit had the highest murder rate in the United States.

Pace of the book:

Good for the most part.  I did feel it dragged at times with the stories of Steward and Kronk gym, and also at times I felt that some of the important bouts in Hearns’s career were skimmed too quickly.

The research was well-done for the most part and the reader is in for a treat if he or she was a fan of Tommy Hearns.   His psyche and his will to battle in the ring, no matter how badly his hand was hurting, were legendary and this book illustrates that desire.   I also appreciated how the book focused more on his boxing career and did not delve too deeply into the other aspects of his life.   Many people do like that in biographies, but I always prefer to read more about the career of an athlete and this book did that.

There were some editing errors for both punctuation and grammar in the ebook version.   Also, another reviewer at pointed out an error in the date and TV network of a fight early in Hearns’ career.   Upon researching this claim, it was noted that the reviewer was correct.   This error, along with the editing, was the only major problems with this book.   They are not a reason to avoid the book, nor were they grave enough to keep me from enjoying it.

Do I recommend?

Yes, for fans of Tommy Hearns or boxing, especially during the 1980’s.     

Book Format Read:

Ebook (Kindle)

Author links: (Brian Hughes) (Damian Hughes)

Buying Links:


  1. One of the greatest fights I ever saw. There was another slugfest between two heavyweights that was its equal in ferocity. I just looked up the year, it was 1976, between George Foreman and Ron Lyle. I never saw such an exchange of knockdowns in a major fight.
    I met Hearns at the 75th anniversary of ring magazine in Atlantic city

    1. That is cool that you got to meet Hearns. I do remember that Foreman-Lyle fight you memtipn. Agree that it was just as vicious.

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