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Boxing legend Marvin Hagler’s widow says he didn’t die from reaction to COVID-19 vaccine

“My baby left in peace with his [usual] smile and now is not the time to talk nonsense.”

In this November 1983 file photo, Marvin Hagler celebrates his unanimous-decision victory over Roberto Duran in Las Vegas. AP Photo, File

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The widow of boxing legend Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who died Saturday in New Hampshire, took to social media Monday to refute rumors that the former middleweight champion had succumbed to a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“For sure wasn’t the vaccine that caused his death,” said Hagler’s wife of three decades, Kay G. Hagler, in a statement posted to Facebook. “My baby left in peace with his [usual] smile and now is not the time to talk nonsense.”

Kay Hagler didn’t provide additional details on the cause of her husband’s death. He was 66.

Marvin Hagler, a Newark native who fought out of Brockton during his dominant ring run, cut an imposing figure in his prime as a muscular southpaw with a shaved head. Renowned for his punishing fists, his granite jaw, and for treating bouts as battles, Hagler retired at the age of 34 having won 62 of his 67 professional matches (52 by knockout) and drawing two. For seven years from 1980 to 1987, he was the undisputed world middleweight champ.

“I would like to speak with my heart to all of you,” Kay Hagler wrote in her Facebook posting Monday. “ … After 31 years the love of my life is gone and my life without him no longer makes sense‚ but I can feel him next to me even now and he’s telling me not to give up and be strong for him.”

She thanked supporters for their love and described her late husband as “the most beautiful person” she’d ever met.

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“I was the only person close to him until the last minute, and I am the only person that [knows] how things went not even his family [knows] all the details and I do NOT accept to read some [person’s] stupid comment without [that person] knowing really what happen[ed],” Kay Hagler wrote, in an apparent reference to the vaccine rumors.

She also said her husband loathed funerals.

In light of that, she wrote, “there will be no funerals or church celebrations he wants to be remembered with a happy smile but I would be happy if each of you can light a candle for him. However there is something special that I will do because it was his wishes and you will be informed at the right time by me I just need time. Thank you all for your love.”

Earlier on Saturday, Kay Hagler had confirmed via Facebook that “my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

The former champion’s official website had also noted his death, with a brief statement that said he passed away from “natural causes” and was “a champion until the end.”

Many boxing luminaries posted online tributes to Hagler over the weekend, and those messages continued to pour in Monday.

“Condolences and loving thoughts to Kay Hagler and all who loved Marvin, as countless as they number,” tweeted boxing promoter Lou DiBella, in response to Kay Hagler’s Monday statement. “Light that candle for #MarvelousMarvinHagler.”

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Former heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko also paid tribute to Marvin Hagler via Twitter early Monday.

“I just heard the heartbreaking news of the passing of another legend, Marvelous Marvin Hagler,” Klitschko tweeted. “[Late trainer Emanuel] Steward would use Marvin’s fights as a motivator for me before my fights, and let me tell you it worked.”

Hagler, Klitschko wrote, “was a warrior in the ring, and a kind soul outside of it. RIP my friend.”

In later years, Marvin Hagler was a regular at the Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub in Glen, N.H., near his home.

Missi Nelson, a bartender at the pub, said Monday that Hagler was always nice and a “sweetheart” to customers and staff.

“We’ve all known him forever,” she said in a telephone interview. “He was local staple here in the valley.”

Nelson said Hagler was very careful about dining out during the pandemic and kept his mask on whenever possible.

“He didn’t take his mask off for anything,” she said. “He was just in last week. We’re all shocked. … He had a great following. Everyone loved him.”

Hagler, who lived for years in Italy, would say goodbye to her in Italian before leaving pub, she recalled.

“I will always miss him saying ‘ciao, ciao’ to me whenever he left,” Nelson said.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

 

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