Former boxer Roberto 'Mano de Piedra' Durán has had a pacemaker successfully implanted. GETTY IMAGES

The former world champion from Panama suffered a heart complication and he had to undergo surgery. Everything went well, according to the family of the man once regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world

Roberto 'Mano de Piedra' Durán, the 72-year-old former world champion from Panama and one of the greatest boxers in history, was rushed to hospital and he underwent heart surgery to have a pacemaker implanted. "Durán's family is happy to announce that, thanks to God, the implantation of a pacemaker in our champion was a success," his family posted on social media, according to AFP.

At midnight last Friday, the champion's own family announced that he had been admitted to hospital with heart problems. "Our champion suffered a health complication due to a complete AV (atrioventricular) block," the family said in a message posted on social media. They even asked for prayers for Durán.

The ex-boxer's wife, Felicidad Iglesias, said on Sunday that her husband would undergo surgery on Monday to have a pacemaker fitted. "Roberto isn't seriously ill. I took him for a routine check-up and they found something in his heart," Iglesias said on Sunday.

Roberto Durán and Robert De Niro at the premiere of the film about the former boxer's life. GETTY IMAGES
Roberto Durán and Robert De Niro at the premiere of the film about the former boxer's life. GETTY IMAGES

Durán is a national hero in his country and a true symbol of Panamanian sport. A world champion in various weight classes, including lightweight, he won the title 12 times and boxed professionally from the age of 16 to 50.

He took part in 119 fights, winning 103 and losing 16. He was knocked out four times and sent 70 of his opponents to the canvas, earning him the nickname 'Hands of Stone'. His punching power, skill and bold and brave fighting style endeared him to fans of the sport.

Among his fights, fans remember his victories over Scotland's Ken Buchanan (1972) and Americans Sugar Ray Leonard (1980), Davey Moore (1983) and Iran Barkley (1989). He beat the best. For a time he was considered the best pound for pound. "My house is full of people crying, I thank them, they don't know the love my husband has for the Panamanian people," said Iglesias, as reported by AFP.

His son, Robin Durán, announced on local TVN that his father had received the pacemaker because, according to the doctors, "his heart was beating a little irregularly due to an arterial blockage," according to Clarín. His blood pressure was high, and when they went to the hospital they quickly identified the heart problem that needed to be treated.

Venezuelan director Jonathan Jakubowicz brought Durán's life to the big screen in 2016 with the film 'Hands of Stone', starring actor Édgar Ramírez as the Panamanian boxer and Robert De Niro. Sports Illustrated named him the greatest lightweight of all time.

For some time now, Durán has been travelling from one place to another. He appears at many sporting events. Durán was recently in Dubai for the IBA Champions Night, where he spoke to Inside The Games about the trend of major boxing events being held in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, overtaking the traditional boxing meccas of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Durán has always stressed the need for investment to keep boxing growing.