Sugar Ray Leonard is an American boxer, actor, and motivational speaker who is frequently referred to the best fighter of all time. He is quite legendary in his craft: he has won the champions title in five different weight divisions, the undisputed welterweight champion, and the lineal champion in three different weight divisions.
Ray Leonard’s Early Life
Sugar Ray Leonard’s birthplace is in Wilmington, North Carolina. Born to Getha and Cicero on 17th May 1956, he and his family moved to Washington DC at around 1959 and ultimately settled at Palmer Park in 1966. Sugar Ray did complete his high school academics from Parkdale High School. In 1996, he decided to start boxing, given his brother’s influence at the Palmer Park center. By the time he was a teenager, Leonard had already demonstrated his prowess in boxing, and he managed to win about 145 out of 150 sessions. These achievements earned him two National Golden Glove awards in 1973 and 1974, two Amateur Athletic Union awards in 1974 and 1975, and a global medal title at the Pan American Games in 1975.
Once Leonard chose to turn professional, Morton Janks introduced Mike Trainer to him. Mike Trainer was able to talk to his clients and friends into investing in Leonard’s career with about 21,000 US dollars, which was supposed to be repaid in four years. Former Muhammad Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, was hired as Leonard’s manager and trainer. Dundee worked differently – even though he prescribed training procedures he left most of the day to day operations to Janks Morton and Dave Jacobs. Dundee also chose Leonard’s opponents. For these services, Dundee got 15 percent of Sugar Ray’s winnings.
Ray Leonard appeared for the US Olympic team in 1976 as a boxer in the welterweight division. In the Olympics’ final, Ray boxed against Andres Aldama who had reached that level by realizing five straight knockouts. During the last few seconds of the fight, Ray Leonard forced another eight count, and he was thereafter awarded a five-nil decision. Following the decision, Sugar Ray won the Olympic gold medal that year. Later on, after winning the gold medal, Ray announced his retirement from the sport to further his studies. Following enormous pressure from his family and friends, he overturned his earlier decision to retire and decided to box professionally. On November 30, 1979, Ray fought against Wilfred Benitez at Caesar’s Palace for the WBC Welterweight. Leonard, as you might have already guessed, won the match and was consequently named the Fighter of the Year for 1979. Sugar Ray’s fight was scheduled against Larry Bonds on March 1981 in New York. Larry Bonds was the sixth-ranked boxing contender. Leonard was quite aggressive during the match, and he was able to knock out Larry Bond in the tenth round.
In June the same year, Ray Leonard upgraded to the junior welterweight division to fight against Kalule in Texas. Ray Leonard celebrated his win against Kalule, who was at that time the light-middleweight champion, for two years. After the victory, Leonard was marketed as the ‘Showdown’ in September 1981 at Caesars Palace. He fought against Thomas Hearns for the World Welterweight championship in Las Vegas. After the very intense fight, Ray Leonard emerged victorious against the form champion. The battle was later on named as the Fight of the Year. The Boxing Writers Association, after that fight, named Leonard as the Fighter of the Year. The Association went ahead even to name him the Athlete of the Year. He formed a part of the Fabulous Four – a group of athletes who fought each other throughout the decade. The four boxers were Robert Duran, himself, Marvin Hagler, and Thomas Hearns. The four created a famous wave in the low weight categories, which helped in keeping boxing relevant after the Mohammad Ali era. Over the decade, Leonard managed to defeat fellow Boxing Hall of Fame inductees such as Hagler, Fyran, Hearns, and Benitez. BoxRec ranks Leonard as the 27th best boxer of all time. Leonard Ray has also appeared as a boxing commentator for CBS, ABC, ESPN, NBC, EPIX, and HBO.
Sugar Leonard Salary and Net Worth
As of 2012, Sugar Leonard’s net worth was estimated at around 120 million US dollars. He is arguably one of the wealthiest boxers of all time, and this vast source of riches is believed to have come from his boxing successes. Additionally, he was the first boxing athlete to earn 100 million US dollars in purses. Ray Leonard was the best-paid boxing athlete over the 1980s, and he managed to collect a total of 161 million US dollars over this period. The retired boxer owns a big home in Pacific Palisades which he purchased for around seven million US dollars. The house is located at 1550 Amalfi Drive. The mansion, which follows a Georgian style, has about eight bedrooms, covers about 16773 square feet, sits on two acres of land, and 15 bathrooms. Ray Leonard also owns a vacation house which he floated for sale in 2012 for two million US dollars.
Sugar Ray Personal Life
In 1980, Sugar Leonard married his longtime girlfriend, Juanita Wilkinson. The two have three children: Sons Ray Jr and Jarrell and daughter Camille Leonard. The couple later divorced in 1990. During the divorce hearing, Juanita Wilkinson admitted that under the heavy use of alcohol, Sugar Leonard physically abused her severally. She also added that Leonard was a heavy user of Cocaine. Leonard, in his testimony, reinforced his wife’s claims. He revealed that the problems in the marriage were not a consequence of the abuse of alcohol and drugs. In 1989, Sugar Leonard went ahead and married Bernadette Robi – Lynn Swann’s ex-wife. The two have a son called Daniel Leonard. Sugar Ray is and has been the international chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and he is involved in funding and raising its awareness.