Sugar Ray Leonard is best known for winning boxing championships in five weight divisions, but now the pugilist great is coming clean about another chapter in his life: he had been sexually abused.
In his new book, The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, Leonard alleges he was sexually abused in a car by his coach during a period in his career when he was preparing for the 1976 Olympics.
The 55-year old 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.”
The former Dancing With the Stars contestant admits he even toyed with the idea of giving his book editors a different account of the incident, in which the abuser made no physical contact with him. But after seeing Diff’rent Strokes actor Todd Bridges come forward about his sexual abuse on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Leonard realized he would, “never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt.”
Sugar Ray Leonard’s autobiography, The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, will be published in June by Viking Press.
(Photo: Gregg DeGuire/PictureGroup)