Opinion | On Mar. 13, 2021, former middleweight boxing champion Tommy Hearns posted the following Instagram message regarding his longtime friend and former boxing competitor and boxing legend Marvin Hagler:
A real true warrior Pray for the king and his family… he’s in ICU fighting the after effects of the vaccine! He’ll be just fine but we could use the positive energy and Prayer for his Full Recovery!1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
It is unclear how Hearns learned that Hagler had received a COVID-19 vaccine. Nor is it known if Hagler even got the vaccine or, if he did, when he got it. TMZ reported that Hagler’s son, James, said that “earlier” on the day that his father died, Hagler had been taken to a hospital in New Hampshire after “experiencing breathing and chest pains at home.” Another news report noted that James Hagler had described in Facebook posts how his father had been “rushed to a New Hampshire hospital emergency room after suddenly complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath.”11 12
So it is entirely possible that what Hearns posted on Instagram may simply have been in response to what he learned from Hagler’s son. Contrary to what has been suggested in some media articles, Hearns did not tie Hagler’s death to a vaccination.1 3 4 5 8 9 All Hearns wrote was that Hagler was in an intensive care unit dealing with what, apparently, he understood to be a reaction to a vaccine and that he was confident his former boxing rival would be okay, but that prayers for his recovery would be welcomed.
Hearns’ Message Was Posted Hours Before Hagler Died
Approximately four hours after Hagler was transported from his home in Bartlett, NH to the hospital, Hagler’s family was notified of his death.12 13 Supposedly, Hagler, 66, died at the hospital. At 5:45 pm on Mar. 13,14 just hours after Hearns had posted his message, Hagler’s wife, Kay, posted the following message on her husband’s official fan club page on Facebook:
I am sorry to make a very sad announcement. Today unfortunately 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.14
Hagler’s Death Attributed to “Natural Causes”
The announcement Hagler’s death on his website states:
We are very sad to report that Marvelous Marvin Hagler died on March 13 of natural causes near his home in New Hampshire.15
Those are the facts that have been reported. In other words, there’s little that is known about the circumstances surrounding Hagler’s death, even though there has been a considerable amount of media coverage of this news story.
Unfortunately, most of this coverage has been aimed at blaming Hearns and so-called “anti-vaxxers” for spreading rumors that Hagler died as a result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. There have been headlines such as “Anti-vaxxers try to hijack death of boxing legend Marvin Hagler, falsely claiming he died from vaccine side-effects” and “Boxing legend Marvin Hagler’s death is being used by anti-vaxxers to push conspiracies about the COVID vaccine.”!”2 5 6 7 16
Clearly, in the case of Hearns, the allegation of rumor-mongering is unjustified since his message was posted prior to the announcement of Hagler’s death.
Speculation About Hagler’s Death
What Hearns’ Instagram message did do was fuel public speculation after Hagler’s death was announced that Hagler may have died as a result of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.16 Such speculation should not be viewed as unreasonable, given the number of deaths that have been reported in the United States and worldwide shortly after people have gotten the experimental vaccine—in some cases, within minutes or hours after vaccination.17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51
In short, contrary to what the media is attempting to suggest, there is no coordinated effort to link Hagler’s death to a vaccine he may or may not have received. There is simply speculation, which is what people normally engage in after learning that an apparently healthy sports celebrity suddenly dies and relatively little information is offered about the cause.
There was similar public speculation following the death of baseball great Hank Aaron on Jan. 5, 2021, two weeks after he was given Moderna’s experimental mRNA-1273 vaccine. FactCheck.org noted that the “sequence of events” after Aaron was vaccinated “led some social media users to suggest there was a direct link between his getting the shot and then dying several days later,” and added, “But there is no evidence that is the case.”17
Ultimately, Aaron’s sudden death was attributed to “natural causes.” At the moment, this also appears to be the explanation for Hagler’s sudden death, although nothing more detailed has been given as an official cause.17
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2 Blitz S, Brown M. Anti-vaxxers hijack boxing legend Marvin Hagler’s death after rival Tommy Hearns said he was ‘in ICU fighting after-effects of vaccine’: Boxer’s family says 66-year-old actually died of natural causes at home. Daily Mail Mar. 14, 2021.
3 Bumbaca C. Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s widow says late husband did not die due to COVID-19 vaccine reaction. USA Today Mar. 16, 2021.
4 Eutachewich L. ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler didn’t die after COVID-19 vaccine, wife says. New York Post Mar. 16, 2021.
5 Gaydos R. Marvin Hagler death theories dismissed as wife Kay denounces ‘some stupid comment’. Fox News Mar. 16, 2021.
6 Kilander G. Anti-vaxxers try to hijack death of boxing legend Marvin Hagler, falsely claiming he died from vaccine side-effects. Independent Mar. 15, 2021.
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