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Mustafa Hamsho-Rogue Warrior

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  • Mustafa Hamsho-Rogue Warrior

    The best boxer to come out of Syria and that whole area known as The Levant, Mustafa Hamsho was a top contender at middleweight in the 80's and later also a light heavyweight contendr, briefly. He holds victories over Bobby Czyz, Wilfred Benitez, Alan Minter and Curtis Parker. He is most known for his two title fights with/against Hagler and the first time he lasted 11 rounds, which was a pretty impressive feat as he became the first guy to last past the 10th round against Marvelous Marvin. Hamsho was a tough as nails, come forward fighter who was also known for using a various arsenal of dirty tricks such as butting and holding and hitting. Because of that, he isn't remembered too fondly but he was undeniably a quality fighter still. He hit hard and was cagey and tough. This is the story of the Rough Syrian.

    He was also known under the alias "Rocky Estafire", which he used early on in his pro career, due perhaps to negative associations many Americans already then had with Arabs and their names. He was born 10 October 1953 in Latakia, a coastal city in northern Syria. At the age of 15, he won the national junior middleweight amateur title. He idolized Muhammad Ali and in order to get to USA and become a pro, he took a job on a Greek ship. He tried to jump ship three times but failed, until the fourth time when he landed in Red Hook and entered Brooklyn's Arab community. That was in 1973 and Hamsho turned pro in 1975, trained by Paddy Floyd out of Manhattan's Gramercy Gym. He lost his first fight against Pat Cuillo on points in 6 rounds, after being down in the first round. His second fight ended in a draw, but after that he started winning. His first notable win was against Bobby "Boogaloo" Watts, who was the first man to defeat Marvin Hagler. Hamsho stopped him by TKO6 on 21 September 1978 in Jersey City. Reportedly, Boogaloo didn't want to fight southpaws and Hamsho was one, but his manager told him to hide it before the fight. He used various names early on before starting to use his real name. In 1980, he beat Wilford Scypion by a DQ10. Scypion would later also fight Hagler for the world titles. In 1981, after scoring a SD10 win over Curtis Parker, then a promising contender, he fought Alan Minter on 6 June at Caesars Palace. It was a close fight but Hamsho was more aggressive and the judges favored that, two of them anyway, giving him another SD10 victory. This victory opened the doors for a fight with Marvin Hagler himself. He faced Hagler 3 October that year at Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois. Hamsho was as aggressive as usual but his aggression proved to be fruitless against the best man in the division. He butted Hagler in the third round, opening a small cut over his right eye. Hagler started battering him and opened bad cuts on Hamsho's face. The fight was finally stopped at 2:09 of round 11, with Hamsho bleeding, bruised and helpless on the ropes. It was not a very successful showing, but still a very brave one. It was the first time he had gone beyond 10 rounds.

    Hamsho went back on track by winning a rematch against Curtis Parker by MD10. He then fought the 20-0 up and comer Bobby Czyz on 20 November '82 and won by UD10, getting 7 rounds from two of the judges. On 16 July '83 he faced Wilfred Benitez. in his second fight at 160 and after losing his WBC title to Hearns. Hamsho surprised by outclassing Benitez and beating him beyond all doubt, using his strength to bully and dominate him, keeping him pinned against the corner for much of the fight. Despite at 5'8 being shorter than the 5'10 Benitez, Hamsho was a natural middleweight and a strong one at that. He won by the scores of 117-111, 118-109 and 118-111. Don King promoted the card and this fight once again opened doors for another fight against Hagler. This time however, it would last a lot shorter. It was 19 October '84 at Madison Square Garden when Hagler sent Hamsho down for the first time in his career in the third round. As he beat the count, Hagler finished him off with a right hook and Al Certo, the then-trainer of Hamsho, stopped the fight at 2:31. Hamsho got 300 K from the fight. After that, Hamsho decided his middleweight days were over and became first a super middleweight. He first scored 3 knockout wins before decisioning Jimmy Shavers in November 1986. He then fought against Donny Lalonde for the vacant WBC Americas light heavy title, 7 May '87 at the Felt Forum in NY. It was a tough fight and Lalonde was taller by around 5 inches and also 6 years younger. Hamsho lost two points for dirty tactics and in the end also the decision by clear margins. Lalonde later praised his toughness and said it was an honor to fight him. It was clear however his best days were behind him. He won one more easy fight before fighting the rising German contender Graciano Rocchigiani on 5 December that year in Dussseldorf and getting stopped in 1 round after being hit by four hard left hands and floored. His last fight was on 10 November '89 and he beat Wesley Reid by TKO5, after first getting a standing 8-count in the first round. His final record is 44 wins with 28 ko's, 5 losses and 2 draws.

    Hamsho is still the only Syrian and Middle Easterner to fight for a world title and against such a great fighter as Marvin Hagler. He was a guy who was very determined and wanted to win at all cost. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he boxed an exhibition at a charity event in New York. He is another guy that was simply unlucky to fight at the same division and the same time as Hagler. At some later point and in a weaker era, he could've easily won a world title. Thank you.



  • #2
    Had Hagler not been around he probably would have been world champ for 3 years. Good fighter - rough, tough and a handful in any era.

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    • #3
      ---Always a rough day at the office fighting Hamsho. I'd think coastal Syria would be a nicer place than big city environment where he had to live for his boxing instruction in the US.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by LondonRingRules View Post
        ---Always a rough day at the office fighting Hamsho. I'd think coastal Syria would be a nicer place than big city environment where he had to live for his boxing instruction in the US.
        Yeah, I heard Latakia is a very nice place. My cousin's wife lived there as a child. Her parents worked there, or father did.

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