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Sugar Ray Leonard claims he was abused by an Olympic boxing coach as a teenager

Leonard is declining interviews about his autobiography until he begins a publicity tour in June.

May 18, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard claims in his soon-to-be-released autobiography that he was abused by his Olympic boxing coach in the 1970s.
Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard claims in his soon-to-be-released autobiography… (Paul Buck / EPA )

Sugar Ray Leonard alleges in his upcoming autobiography that he was sexually abused as a teenager in the 1970s by an unnamed "prominent Olympic boxing coach," a stunning claim by the former U.S. Olympic and world champion fighter who became one of the most popular fighters in the sport's history.

"I'm baffled by all of this coming out now, I had no idea," said veteran fight promoter Bob Arum, who promoted Leonard's victory over Marvin Hagler in 1987. "That's horrible. He never told me, but my experience with Ray is that he's an honest guy."

Leonard's book, "The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring," depicts significant family trauma, including his parents' domestic problems, his own cocaine and alcohol use and becoming a parent as a teenager.

Leonard is declining interviews until June, when he'll begin a publicity tour for the book. USA Boxing in a statement said that since 2005 the organization has required those associated with the sport to clear a sexual abuse and molestation background check.

Jeff Wald, Leonard's former business partner with the NBC reality series "The Contender," said, "One of the things I've always said about Ray is he stands up to whatever his foibles are. Watching him as he prepared this book, I knew he'd be an honest guy who doesn't hide behind anything."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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