He passed away at his home in Cincinnati following a lengthy battle with heart disease.
Aaron Pryor, known as ‘The Hawk’, held the WBA version of the belt from 1980 to 1985 and was best remembered for two bouts with Nicaraguan Alexis Arguello.
“We are heartbroken and sad to announce that our beloved Aaron passed away at home surrounded by his family at 5:57am Sunday, October 9, 2016 after a long battle with heart disease,” his widow, Frankie Pryor, said in a statement.
Pryor was unbeaten in 31 fights before his first meeting with Arguello in Miami in November 1982, which he won with a stoppage in the 14th round. The encounter was later named as ‘Fight of the Decade’ by Ring magazine.
Pryor beat three-time world champion Arguello again the following year in Las Vegas, but his career quickly began to unravel after problems with cocaine and he suffered the only defeat of his career against Bobby Joe Young in 1987 after a 29-month absence.
After his retirement in 1990, he spoke extensively of the dangers of drug abuse, saying of his earlier addiction: “I reached out and certain people did not give me their right hand. They gave me drugs.”
Pryor was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996.
He is survived by wife Frankie, sons Aaron and Antwan, daughter Elizabeth and grandsons Adam, Austin and Aaron.