Duva's 23-year-old brother, Carl Duva, introduced him to boxing when Lou was only 10. Lou polished his skills and was an amateur and ballroom brawler by age 12. Lou as a boxer did not have much luck, although that might have been due to the fact he barely had time to train, having to go out to the street and perform many types of jobs to try to help the Duva's economy.
Lou went in 1938 to try to join a group named the Civilian Conservation Corps. He had problems getting in, however, because of his age. To be a member of that group, applicants had to be 18 or over. Duva was only 16 when he applied to join. He went and changed his birth certificate and all his personal information and they accepted him, thinking that he had been born in 1920. The C.C.C. sent him to Boise, Idaho, and then to Walla Walla, Washington, where he learned to drive trucks.
Duva went to the US Army after World War II broke out. He went to Jackson, Mississippi to train but he got in trouble with two Lieutenants. After that, he was sent to Camp Hood in Texas, where he was named boxing instructor.
He went back home in 1944 to help run a restaurant and to begin a professional boxing career, as a boxer. But he could only compile a record of 15 wins and 7 losses as a professional fighter, and he retired soon after, going back to his days as a trucker. He started a trucking company and met his wife Enes soon after. He had met her while he was performing as a clown at a ministry and they married in 1949.
Lou spent a good portion of the early 1950s at a gym named Stillmans boxing gym. Stillmans gym is known by two things: it's legendary fame as a filthy gym where windows were kept closed so that the smell of sweat would not escape, and the large amount of celebrities, both from Hollywood and the boxing world that the gym attracted. Duva, already enamored with the world of boxing, felt his passion for that sport increase everytime he visited Stillman's.
Duva's trucking business was doing well, so he decided to open, with the blessing of Enel, his own gym, named Garden Gym.
After he sold his fleet of 32 trucks, he became a bail bondsman, and he tracked offenders who jumped bail to avoid trial.
By 1963, Duva had become friends with former world Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, one of the people who rejoiced when Duva crowned his first world boxing champion, Middleweight Joey Giardello, who dethroned Dick Tiger that year to become world Middleweight champion. Duva was one of the last persons that Marciano spoke to before Marciano's plane crashed in 1969.
Lou's son, Dan Duva (+1996), was a lawyer who graduated in 1977. When Leon Spinks' management came for help in 1978, Dan gladly helped them. It was Lou's idea that Dan help Spinks' management group, and, with Dan's earning of $500,000 dollars, Lou and Dan formed Main Events in April of '78. The company still runs, now managed by Lou.
Also during that period, the Duva's would put boxing cards at the Ice World facility in New Jersey. The Duva's used to resemble tactics used by the WWE when promoting a card, once even going as far as selling a truck driver as a Prince from Zaire just to hype the show and sell tickets.
In 1979, ESPN became interested in showing Duva's shows from Ice World, and they began to do so soon after. Duva's shows and presence caught the eyes of future world champions such as Rocky Lockridge, Bobby Czyz and Livingstone Bramble, all of which signed up with Main Events. However, trouble came with success: as a result of all the work Lou was putting in as a trainer, bail bondsman and everything else he was doing, he suffered his first heart attack during that year. Doctors told him he needed to step off some of his activities, so Lou decided to get off anything that wasn't related to boxing. This, after he had talked with wife Enel about which activities to drop.
Dan Duva then formed a friendship with Shelly Finkel, a powerful boxing power broker who convinced Alex Ramos, future world Jr. Welterweight champion Johnny Bumphus, future world Heavyweight champion Tony TNT Tucker, troubled prospect Tony Ayala Jr and future Mike Tyson rival Mitch Green to join Main Events, with Lou as trainer and manager, and Dan overseeing the business side of the company.
In 1981, Main Events became the promoter of the first bout between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, won by Leonard by a knockout in round 14. It was the largest grossing non Heavyweight bout until then, making $33 million dollars, of which $1.5 million went to Main Events. But Lou could not celebrate long, as wife Enel had been diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis.
1984 was a highly successful year for Duva and Main Events. He had Bumphus, Lockridge, Bramble and Mike McCallum crowned as world champions, and he signed future world champions Mark Breland, Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor right after their participation in the Olympics in Los Angeles. He also signed Olympian Tyrell Biggs.
In 1985, he was named manager of the year by the American Boxing Writer's Association.
Holyfield was the next to be crowned world champion, when he beat Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1986. That was the year that Enel Duva passed away, after fighting her disease for five years.
Breland and Vinny Pazienza followed the championship route for Main Events, winning their first world titles in 1987, year in which he was named Trainer of The Year by the WBA. Taylor followed Whitaker and Pazienza by beating Buddy McGuirt in 1988 for the world's Jr. Welterweight title.
1989 was another triumphant year for Duva and Main vents, when Whitaker, Darrin Van Horn and Puerto Rico's John John Molina crowned themselves champions, adding to the Main Events line of world champion boxers.
1990 marked the year that Duva and another legendary trainer, George Benton, went their separate ways after years of working together. But Holyfield then gave Main Events another championship, when he knocked out James Buster Douglas in three rounds to win the world Heavyweight title. After that, Lou Duva reached inmense mainstream fame, appearing in cameos at different television series and even visiting the Late Night With David Letterman show as a guest. He also acted as wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper's trainer in a WWF'' show.
In 1992, Eddie Hopson became Duva's 13th world champion.
In 1996, Dan Duva passed away of Cancer. Then, the Duva's had to make a decision and they decided to go on with the company, in Dan's memory. Dino Duva, Dan's younger brother, became company president, and the company went on o sign Andrew Golota, David Tua and future world welterweight champion Vernon Forrest, among others.
On the night of the infamous riot after the first Golota-Riddick Bowe bout, Duva had to be hospitalized after complaining of chest pains, but only as a precautionary measure. He was found out to be ok after testing was done to his heart that night.