When Sugar Ray Leonard retired from the ring last month, all of boxing felt the loss—no one more keenly than middleweight champ Marvin Hagler, 30, who knew that a showdown with Leonard would have brought him the multimillion-dollar payday that has so far eluded him. Such frustrations seem to be Marvin’s lot. Earlier this year he was scheduled to fight the current WBC super welterweight champ Thomas Hearns until Hearns pulled out with a finger injury. “I thought I had him nailed down,” says Hagler, a trace of anger clouding his near whisper of a voice. “Now I want to let the public know he ducked out.” Such antagonism, of course, won’t hurt the gate should Hearns agree to a fight sometime next year. “I want the big fight for the big purse,” says Hagler. “I’m not gonna relax until I find out how good I can be.”
For decades U.S. skiers have been lackluster in world competition. No more. America’s Phil Mahre has won the men’s World Cup two years in a row; now Christin Cooper of Ketchum, Idaho is aiming to be No. 1 on the women’s side. A seven-year veteran of the U.S. ski team, Cooper, 23, took up her sport at age 6 and was racing by 11. An also-ran on the international circuit before breaking through to win two silver medals and a bronze at the World Cup championships in Austria last March, Cooper, whose strongest event is the slalom, is skiing well enough now to move to the top. “A lot of variables are involved,” she says, “and luck is one of them. I need to perform strongly in all my races, and not just have flashes of brilliance.”
Only two years ago long-legged New Zealander Allison Roe ran her second marathon ever, in just a few minutes under three hours. A year later, in New York, she set a new women’s record for the event: 2 hours 25 minutes 29 seconds. Kept out of marathon competition this year by a troublesome Achilles’ tendon—she has also suffered since birth from a mild case of spina bifida—Roe has resumed training and is determined to keep on improving. Though marathon-watchers are slavering over the prospect of a head-to-head competition between Roe and former record holder Grete Waitz at the world championships in Helsinki in August, Allison refuses to speculate about times. “I would like to be in a very competitive marathon and break a record,” she says, “but I don’t train with Grete in mind.” Roe’s coach, Gary Elliot, agrees. “I’m convinced Allison could break the 2-hour 20-minute mark,” he says, “but her object in any race is to win.”
A common complaint about professional golfers is that they all seem cut from the same cloth—bland, blond and just out of college. Calvin Peete is none of the above. A 39-year-old former migrant worker who never laid hands on a club until he was 23, he won four tournaments and more than $300,000 on the PGA tour in 1982. His goal next year, says Peete, is to pass the $1 million mark in career earnings (he has more than $700,000 in six years on the tour) and to win one of the major U.S. championships, becoming, incidentally, the first black to do so. “My chipping and putting improved this year,” he says, “and it made me more aggressive. Now I’ve got to pick up on my bunker play.”
The football season doesn’t end for UCLA and Michigan in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The two powers—and more than 200 other schools—are battling for the talents of Alvin Miller, 17. He’s got 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and one college recruiter observes, “Potentially, he’s as good a wide receiver as there’s ever been.” At 6’4″ and 216 pounds, Miller is a three-sport star with a B scholastic average at Kirkwood (Mo.) High School. Fortunately for Alvin, he has a head that is not easily turned. “I’ve narrowed my list down to about 10 schools,” he says, “and I’m working on it with my coaches and family.” His decision date: sometime in February.