He’s won an Olympic gold medal and world titles in five different weight classes, but does ring champ Sugar Ray Leonard have the moves to win the coveted Dancing With the Stars mirror ball trophy? His pro partner Anna Trebunskaya thinks so, if he learns to stand up straight first.
“In boxing, he’s used to protecting his face and hunches down. You have to do the opposite in dancing, so he has to overcome that,” explains the red-haired Russian. “His strength is he’s very light on his feet. He’s really fast and can bounce up and down like nobody’s business. The weakness is his posture. It’s not quite a dancer’s posture. Our first dance is one of the hardest they could give him, the fox trot. It’s all about the posture.”
Trebunskaya was “excited to work with such a great legend even though I’m not into boxing. But I like to hear him talk about it for sure,” she says, noting that Leonard is “working hard. He’s improving. The first couple days were hard for him. He was trying to get a grip on what it’s all about. But he enjoys dancing to music. He’s a fun guy. He’s a performer and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform.”
While she can’t properly assess the competition until they dance for the first time Mar. 21 on the season premiere, Trebunskaya is glad there’s no one in the cast with obvious dance training. “It’s a more level playing field and I think it’s going to be fun to see different developments,” she says.
Sports figures have traditionally done well on the show and bring a built-in fan base, but Trebunskaya thinks Leonard will have crossover appeal. “I hope that people can see his personality and root for that because he’s really fun. He loves music. He loves moving his body. He’d be one of those guys you’d see dancing at a wedding and want to dance with him,” she says. Her game plan to win? “Just take it one step at a time, that’s our strategy. Try not to get overwhelmed. Have mini-goals and hope for the best.”
(Photo: Courtesy of ABC)