SportzNewz Takes an in Depth look at one of the greatest Boxers of all time. Boxing
Legend and Promoter "Sugar" Ray Leonard.
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There are two sides to Sugar Ray Leonard, almost like a Jekyll and Hyde. Outside the ring, there was his charismatic personality and heavenly smile,
which did wonders for his Q-rating. Inside it, there was his animal instinct, looking for bruises or scar tissue on opponents, something that he could
brutally take advantage of.
"In the ring," he said, "I can feel that halo over my head turn into those two little horns."
Bedeviling his foes with a cunning grace, Leonard won championships in five weight classes and was the first fighter to earn more than $100 million in
purses. He was hailed as the most celebrated fighter since Muhammad Ali. "Ray's got the same charm, the same excitement about him," said Angelo
Dundee, who trained both.
In the 1980s, Leonard's fights against Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler were classics. The dangerous Leonard wasn't a slugger,
but an artist in a sport of precision. Sugar Ray brought back thoughts of the "sweet science." He was fast and flashy, both with his hands and feet.
This enabled him to land left hooks and jabs, right uppercuts and crosses -- or swift and accurate combinations of these punches -- with devastating
"When I first started, I used to fight like Joe Frazier," Leonard said. "I would come in low, bob and weave, and I knocked out many guys like that. I
straightened out when I saw Ali, when I started studying Sugar Ray Robinson."
He entered the nation's psyche when he won Olympic gold in 1976, with a picture of his girlfriend taped to his shoe. After turning pro, he won 35 of
his first 36 fights, with 25 knockouts, until age caught up with him and dimmed his final record (36-3-1).
Some thought he was arrogant when he usurped the nickname Sugar Ray, after the man many consider boxing's best fighter, pound-for-pound. But not the
one person who counted.
"I'm gratified he's using my name," Sugar Ray Robinson said. "It's great when kids think enough of you to use your name."
While he took the name of a great fighter, he was named after a great singer. On May 17, 1956, he was born Ray Charles Leonard in Wilmington, N.C.,
the fifth of Getha and Cicero's seven children. His mother wanted Ray to become a singer.
"He sang with two of my daughters in church, and people said he sounded like Sam Cooke," Getha said. Early in his teens, his older brother Roger
turned him to boxing. "And like Ray used to tell me, 'Mama, I put the singing into swinging,'" Getha said.
Leonard grew up in Wilmington, Washington, D.C., and Palmer, Md., a racially mixed lower-middle class suburb of Baltimore. Two volunteer boxing
coaches in Palmer, Dave Jacobs and Janks Morton, took the quiet young Leonard under their wings.
"He was a natural," Morton said. "Fast and smart, beautiful to watch." The gym where he trained was filled with maxims like, "Don't forget the bridge
you cross. You may have to cross it again."
Leonard was a quick learner. Before he was 20, he won three National Golden Gloves titles, two AAU championships and the 1975 Pan-American Games
crown. At the Montreal Olympics, Leonard capped his amateur career by winning the light-welterweight (139 pounds) title. In the final, before a
national television audience, Leonard ignored intense pain in his two badly injured hands to win a unanimous decision over Cuba's Andres Aldama.
"This is my last fight," Leonard said. "My decision is final. My journey is ended, my dream fulfilled."
But the journey wasn't ended. This was to be only the first of some half-dozen "retirements" by Leonard, who said no to boxing as often as Liz Taylor
said yes to men who wanted to marry her.
Leonard had hoped his Olympic star would enable him to cash in on commercial endorsements, providing him with enough money to attend college and take
care of his ailing parents. But it didn't come to pass, partly because of sensationalized news stories about Juanita Wilkinson, the mother of his son
(and whom he would marry in 1980), filing a paternity suit against him in an effort to get food stamps.
"It killed every commercial he could have gotten after the Olympics," Morton said. "The American public didn't seem to believe that a black athlete
could eat Wheaties too."
So Leonard turned pro. He hired attorney Mike Trainer as his business manager and Dundee as his boxing manager. Leonard became a celebrity, winning
his fights regularly on television, and lived up to the prediction of his Olympic coach, who said, "Ray will go through the pros like a dose of
On the night before Leonard fought WBC welterweight champ Wilfred Benitez in November 1979, Ali telephoned and advised him not to do anything flashy
because the judges would resent him hot-dogging against a champion. Leonard fought a basic fight, and it was good enough for him to register a TKO
with six seconds left in the 15th round.
Leonard held the title for less than seven months. His ego cost him his first fight with Duran. Rankled by an exchange of pre-fight insults with
Duran, Leonard decided to prove he was as macho as Duran; he went blow to blow instead of boxing. The result: He dropped a close (but unanimous)
15-round decision. "The fight in Montreal was not a boxing match," Leonard said. "It was a street brawl. I didn't utilize my skills there. I was
determined to stand my ground and fight Duran his way. I don't like Duran's way. He walks around like he owns the world."
On Nov. 25, 1980, in New Orleans, Leonard conquered his stubbornness and boxed Duran, who had a 72-1 record, into submission. His taunting got under
the skin of the fighter known for his "Fists of Stone." The worst humiliation came in the seventh round when Leonard wound up his right hand, as if to
throw a bolo punch, and then surprised Duran by slapping a left hand in his face. Late in the eighth round, Duran said, "No mas," and Leonard had
regained his title.
On June 25, 1981, Leonard won his second title when he knocked out WBA junior middleweight champ Ayub Kalule in the ninth round. In his next fight
three months later, Leonard won a war with Hearns, the WBC welterweight champ. The "Hit Man" took over in the middle rounds and practically closed
Leonard's left eye. But Leonard, behind on all three scorecards, registered a knockdown in the 13th round and ended the brutal war in the 14th,
winning on a TKO.
In May 1982, Leonard underwent an operation for a detached retina and six months later announced his retirement. He came back in May 1984 after not
fighting in 27 months. Although he scored a ninth-round TKO over unheralded Kevin Howard, he said he was retiring again.
Until 1987, that is, when he earned about $12 million and won the WBC middleweight title by defeating Hagler on a split decision. The Ring called it
the Fight of the Year and the Upset of the Year. Then Leonard retired once more.
During his retirements in the 1980s, Leonard turned to coc aine and alcohol for adrenaline substitutes, to provide him with the rush that boxing
had. While he would drop the habits, it wasn't enough to prevent a divorce from Juanita in 1990. In November 1988, he came out of retirement to fight
again. At 167 pounds, he registered a ninth-round TKO over Don Lalonde to gain the WBC super-middleweight and lightweight titles.
A year later, Leonard fought a controversial draw with Hearns, in which "Hit Man" scored two knockdowns, and he took a decision from Duran in their
rubber match. Leonard trimmed down to 154 pounds in 1991 to fight for the WBC super welterweight title, but Terry Norris dominated and took a
one-sided decision. Immediately after the beating, Leonard told the crowd he was retiring again.
This one should have been for good, but six years later, Leonard, at 40, returned to the ring. Hector "Macho" Camacho embarrassed him and registered a
Despite his staying in the ring too long, Leonard is recognized by many as the best non-heavyweight since that other Sugar Ray.
Nationality: United States
Hometown: Palmer Park, MD
Birthplace: Wilmington, SC
Date of Birth: 1956-05-17
Height: 5' 10
Trainer: Angelo Dundee
Manager: Mike Trainer
Sugar Ray Leonard Career Record
36 Wins, 3 Loss, 1 Draw, 25 Knockouts
5 Feb -- Luis Vega, Las Vegas, NV -- W 6
14 May -- Willie Rodriguez, Baltimore, MD -- W 6
10 Jun -- Vinnie DeBarros, Hartford, CT -- KO 3
24 Sep -- Frank Santore, Baltimore, MD -- KO 5
5 Nov -- Augustin Estrada, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 5
17 Dec -- Hector Diaz, Washington, DC -- KO 2
4 Feb -- Rocky Ramon, Baltimore, MD -- W 8
1 Mar -- Art McKnight, Dayton, OH -- KO 7
19 Mar -- Javier Muniz, New Haven, CT -- KO 1
13 Apr -- Bobby Haymon, Landover, MD -- KO 3
13 May -- Randy Milton, Utica, NY -- KO 8
3 Jun -- Rafael Rodriguez, Baltimore, MD -- W 10
18 Jul -- Dick Eckland, Boston, MA -- W 10
9 Sep -- Floyd Mayweather, Providence, RI -- KO 10
6 Oct -- Randy Shields, Baltimore, MD -- W 10
3 Nov -- Bernardo Prada, Portland, ME -- W 10
9 Dec -- Armando Muniz, Springfield, IL -- KO 6
11 Jan -- Johnny Gant, Landover, MD -- KO 8
11 Feb -- Fernand Marcotte, Miami Beach, FL -- KO 8
24 Mar -- Daniel Gonzales, Tucson, AZ -- KO 1
21 Apr -- Adolfo Viruet, Las Vegas, NV -- W 10
20 May -- Marcos Geraldo, New Orleans, LA -- W 10
24 Jun -- Tony Chiaverini, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 4
12 Aug -- Pete Ranzany, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 4
28 Sep -- Andy Price, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 1
30 Nov -- Wilfredo Benitez, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 15
(Won WBC Welterweight Title)
31 Mar -- Dave Green, Landover, MD -- KO 4
(Retained WBC Welterweight Title)
20 Jun -- Roberto Duran, Montreal, Canada -- L 15
(Lost WBC Welterweight Title)
25 Nov -- Roberto Duran, New Orleans, LA -- KO 8
(Won WBC Welterweight Title)
28 Mar -- Larry Bonds, Syracuse, NY -- KO 10
(Retained WBC Welterweight Title)
25 Jun -- Ayub Kalule, Houston, TX -- KO 9
(Won WBA Jr. Middleweight Title; vacated July 1981)
16 Sep -- Thomas Hearns, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 14
(Won WBA, Retained WBC Welterweight Titles)
15 Feb -- Bruce Finch, Reno, NV -- KO 3
(Retained Welterweight Title)
9 Nov -- Announced Retirement
11 May -- Kevin Howard, MA -- KO 9
6 Apr -- Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Las Vegas, NV -- W 12
(Won WBC Middleweight Title)
7 Nov -- Don Lalonde, Las Vegas, NV -- KO 9
(Won WBC Light Heavyweight and Super Middleweight Titles)
--- Vacates WBC Light Heavyweight Title
12 Jun -- Thomas Hearns, Las Vegas, NV -- D 12
(Retained WBC Super Middleweight Title)
7 Dec -- Roberto Duran, Las Vegas, NV -- W 12
(Retained WBC Super Middleweight Title)
--- Vacates WBC Super Middleweight title
9 Feb -- Terry Norris, New York, NY -- L 12
(For WBC Jr. Middleweight Title)
Jan -- Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame
1 Mar -- Hector "Macho" Camacho, Atlantic City -- KO by 5
1976 Olympic Gold Medalist
former NABF Welterweight Champion
former 2-Time WBC World Welterweight Champion
former WBA World Light Middleweight Champion
former WBA World Welterweight Champion
former WBC World Middleweight Champion
former WBC World Light Heavyweight Champion
former WBC World Super Middleweight Champion
[Edited on 18-7-2004 by Ocelot]