New York, April 10—It is a story made for a Hollywood script. The bratty kid, just nine years old, comes to the boxing gym every day, badgering the Hall of Fame trainer for a chance to be involved in the fight game. The trainer embraces the youngster’s passion for boxing even though he is not yet a teenager. The relationship is forged, and 10 years later, the kid becomes a heavyweight contender.
Article posted on 10.04.2007
It is the true life story of Mike Marrone and Lou Duva.
Yes, the time worn adage that truth is stranger than fiction applies here.
Duva, in fact, has known heavyweight prospect Marrone (17-0, 13 KO’s) since adolescence. Even though the undefeated big puncher is just 21 years old, the ageless Duva has indeed watched the youngster serve his apprenticeship in the fight game for the better part of a decade.
“He was nine years old, and would come to the gym after school at around 2:00 o’clock, when I was training great fighters like Evander Holyfield, Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker,” recalls Duva. “The kid would say: ‘Mr. Duva, teach me how to put their gloves on.’”
“I was a bratty little kid, pestering him, but I loved boxing, and always wanted to be a fighter,” recollects Marrone. “Some kids say they want to be an astronaut one day, President of the United States the next day, and a skateboarder the next. I wanted to be a boxing champion. Even my grammar school teachers could tell you that.”
And so, a friendship between Duva and Marrone was born. Marrone was like a puppy dog tailing Duva and his fighters, developing an understanding and a passion for the fight game.
“I used to tell him, count the jabs, count the punches connected, during the sparring sessions when I was training Whitaker, Holyfield and Taylor,” recounted Duva. “He was very studious even back then.”
Perhaps, more than studious. Marrone’s favorite fighters include Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, champions long before Marrone was born. “I watched ESPN Classic and fight films,” says Marrone. “It has really helped me as a boxer. I’ve become a boxing historian. They say history repeats itself, so when I am in the ring it gives me an edge having that kind of knowledge.”
Fast forward eight years. Gus Curren, who runs a gym in Vero Beach, Florida, and is now Marrone’s trainer, said to Duva: “Remember the kid who used to hang around the gym? He won the Florida Golden Gloves Championship.”
Duva was not surprised. “He was a determined kid, and that determination is his biggest asset today as a fighter,” says Duva. “He wants to be a fighter, he wants to be a fighter! He tapes all the fights. He studies the other young heavyweights and their moves.”
“I will always find a way to win,” adds Marrone. “My will power takes me a long way.”
Marrone has found a way to win 17 straight and emerge as one of the top heavyweight prospects in the game, as he gets ready for his ShoBox debut and his toughest opponent yet, Malachy Farrell (15-0, 12 KO’s), also undefeated, on April 20th at Bally’s Event Center in Atlantic City, with Lou Duva in his corner. Marrone is promoted by Duva Boxing, run by Lou’s son Dino Duva. If Marrone is victorious, he will clearly establish himself as a viable heavyweight contender and a new, fresh face in the division.
“It‘s funny that it ended up this way, working with Lou, it seems like a storybook tale,” says Marrone. “But I honestly always saw myself in this position. I wanted to be undefeated and a future champion. It is all pretty amazing.”
Lou Duva and Mike Marrone: an amazing father son relationship that continues later this month. And the two wait for the call from a Hollywood producer.