In Book, Sugar Ray Leonard Says Coach Sexually Abused Him
In his forthcoming autobiography, former professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard makes a few unexpected accusations.
In the book entitled “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” the ex-fighter reveals darker moments in his life, from cocaine use to growing up in a household with domestic violence and alcohol abuse to surviving a car wreck.
Still, the most shocking account in the book is when Leonard reveals that he was sexually abused as a young fighter by a unnamed “prominent Olympic boxing coach.”
According to reports by the New York Times:
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.”
Sugar Ray Leonard’s book comes out on June 6th, and it will be interesting to read whatever the boxing Hall of Famer has written in his autobiography.