Writing in his upcoming memoir The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, retired boxing legend and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard frankly discusses his problems with cocaine and history of abusing women. Leonard also reveals for the first time that he was sexually abused by one of his Olympic coaches
Leonard writes that when the coach accompanied him as a 15-year-old and another young fighter to a boxing event in Utica, N.Y., in 1971, he had the teenagers take a bath in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts while he sat on the other side of the bathroom. They suspected “something a bit inappropriate” was occurring but did not want to question a strong male authority figure.
Several years later, Leonard describes sitting in a car in a deserted parking lot across from a recreation center, listening intently as the same coach, said to be in his late 40s, explained how much a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics would mean to his future.
He was flattered, filled with hope, as any young athlete would be. But he writes: "Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life. I didn’t scream. I didn’t look at him. I just opened the door and ran."
He adds that when he first decided to discuss the incident in the book, which is co-authored with Michael Arkush, he offered a version in which the abuser stopped before there was actual contact.
"That was painful enough," Leonard writes. "But last year, after watching the actor Todd Bridges bare his soul on Oprah’s show about how he was sexually abused as a kid, I realized I would never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt."
Very refreshing to this honesty coming from a sports figure, especially such a high profile one in the Black community. Jets WR Laveranues Coles went public with his story of childhood sexual abuse in 2005 and many others have followed recently.
Leonard was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses. He is widely considered to be one of the best boxers of all time.