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The Fights

Tommy Hearns Got The Ball Rolling On The Bullshit Anti-Vaxx Conspiracy Theory Of Marvin Hagler’s Death

Marvin Hagler at a fundraising event in 2006.
Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty

Kay Hagler announced the death of her husband, boxing legend Marvelous Marvin Hagler, on the morning of March 14. The following morning, while the world was still processing the sudden news, Kay was back on Facebook, this time to explain that no, her husband had in fact not died from complications caused by the COVID-19 vaccine, describing suggestions to the contrary as “stupid” and “nonsense.”

Clearing up cause-of-death misinformation is for sure not what you want to be doing really ever, let alone within 48 hours of the death of your spouse. It was a since-deleted Instagram comment just hours before Hagler’s death, from none other than Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Marvelous Marvin’s opponent in the greatest fight of either’s career, that got the ball rolling on the viral rumor that Hagler’s hospitalization was due to vaccine complications.

The deleted Instagram post, with the automatically generated link to accurate vaccine info—which presumably went unheeded by the nutters who think they know better than the science.

In a subsequent, also deleted Instagram post, Hearns asked that his comments not be used to fuel “an anti vaccine campaign,” but this is online, and online is hell, and for a certain type of too-online nutjob nothing is juicier and more ripe for sharing than any pretext for puncturing the public’s confidence in the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Hearns and Kay Hagler tried to stop the rumor, but that horse had already left the barn and disappeared over the horizon, as various ghouls too-readily grabbed up Hearns’s comment and its subsequent sloppy aggregation, fixed it in their whole deranged culture-war cosmology, and beamed it out to as many followers as possible. Behold, some horseshit spewed by an asshole:

Huff, who has vowed to delete his Twitter account on March 14, 2022 unless all the people who receive COVID-19 vaccinations between now and then are “zombies or under complete government control,” is one of thousands of social media users who’ve latched onto the belief that Hagler died because of a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. In the wee hours of Monday morning, a quiet little tug-of-war was waged over the content of Hagler’s Wikipedia page, between editors concerned with provable facts and lunatics determined to bring this particular crusade to every possible theater.

A Wikipedia editor takes shots at "the liberal media" and "snowflakes" while adding the words "Chinese virus" to the description of Hagler's death.Credit: Wikipedia
This bozo’s edit: “On March 13, 2021, [Hagler] died of the Chinese Virus vaccine.”

There is no evidence that Hagler even received a COVID-19 vaccine yet (let alone which one), but there is a mountain of evidence that millions and millions have received them with no serious adverse effects.

But this has now become a whole thing. A Twitter search of the words “Hagler” and “vaccine” will turn up just an endless scroll of people either triumphantly blasting this unsubstantiated version of Hagler’s death to their followers or receiving this rumor as fact. In a country where vaccine hesitancy is a real problem, this sucks even more shit than usual. Making things more depressing—while possibly letting Hearns off the hook—is that just about any elderly celebrity who dies this winter and spring from natural causes will have a good chance of having recently been vaccinated, and will be used as fodder for the anti-vaxx charlatans and imbeciles; the conspiracy theory doesn’t need a seed to be planted, not among those already rabid to disbelieve the science.

There has been no official update on the cause of Hagler’s death, but at this point almost nothing short of an attack on camera by space aliens will upend the vaccine narrative in the minds of people desperate or stupid or cynical enough to believe it.

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