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  “Sugar” Ray Leonard Discusses His Book, The Big Fight

By Barbara Pinnella

On Monday “Sugar” Ray Leonard’s book, The Big Fight: My Life in and Out of the Ring hit the bookstores. This is the second part of an interview I did with Leonard. The first part was about his stint on Dancing With the Stars. But with the new book up for grabs I wanted to discuss The Big Fight and what went into the making of it.

Leonard is nothing if not candid in this book. He discusses everything; his awesome boxing career, his addictions and compulsions, and most surprisingly, that as a young boxer he was sexually abused by someone referred to only as “a prominent Olympic boxing coach”. And it took some time to get all of the information in order.

“I’d been writing the book for nearly two years – my memoir,” he told me. “I worked with my writer Michael Arkush and it’s been an incredible experience and journey. I had to rehash and remember everything from more than 30 years ago. It’s been very therapeutic.”

When I asked him if he enjoyed the journey, he hesitated and then replied, “Well, you know what? It was an emotional rollercoaster of my accomplishments. I found myself thinking back to who I was then, and where I am now.”

I have been told that frequently when someone writes a book like this, and are reliving their experiences, they discover moments in their lives where they wish they had done things differently – hadn’t done this, had done that. But according to Leonard, the regrets are there when you hurt someone. For that reason, Ray would not let those thoughts take over.

“I found myself thinking that way a little bit, but then I woke up to the fact that when you hurt yourself, I think that makes you a better person. If you survive,” he added, laughing. “But yes, I would come down on myself, and yes, there are things that one has second thoughts about, but mistakes are made to make you a better person.”

So while the sexual abuse is fodder for those seeking sensationalism, as is his alcohol and drug use and many affairs, there is so much more involved in this writing. Are those things important? Of course, but why not focus on his boxing achievements and well-known battles with Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran, to name but a few. How about his gold medal in the 1976 Olympics, or the fact that he was the first boxer to win $1 million in purses?

This book has it all, as Leonard was not afraid to include everything during this adventure on paper. But I wondered about one thing – was he pleased with the journey that writing this book has taken him on?

“Without question,” he answered quickly. “Without question, I’m pleased and thankful for where I am and who I am.”

And so are the fans and friends of “Sugar” Ray Leonard. I want to thank him for always taking time out to speak with me and wish him all the best.

Be safe and God Bless,
Viva La Raza,


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