Feature

Sugar Ray Leonard’s toughest fight

The former boxing champion recently revealed that he was sexually abused as a teenager.

Sugar Ray Leonard is relieved that his secret is out, said Gordon Marino in The Wall Street Journal. At 55, the former boxing champion has recently revealed that he was sexually abused as a teenager—twice. The first time, he says, it was by a well-known Olympic boxing coach who began touching him and making sexual suggestions. He describes the man involved in the second incident only as a white man in a position of authority. “He helped me here and there with cash that I really needed. He put his hands in a sexual way on my shoulders and began moving down. I couldn’t believe it was happening again. I ran out to my car—where I started shaking and crying.”

He kept the incidents to himself for years, though even after he became a champion, he would sometimes burst into tears for no apparent reason. “No one asked why I was crying. No one asked, ‘How are you feeling, Ray?’” he says, with evident bitterness. The abuse fueled his rage in the ring, and it also took him to some dark places with drugs and drinking, and to the end of his first marriage. He sobered up, began therapy, and found that confronting his demons was worth it. “Other guys have come up to me and told me that it happened to them too. They often have a tear in their eye. I tell them it’s all right.”

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