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Sugar Ray Leonard says coach sexually abused him

May 18, 2011

NEW YORK :  Former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard says in a new book that he was sexually abused as a teenager by a prominent Olympic coach, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said Leonard makes the claim in his upcoming autobiography, “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring.” The book is due to be published in June.

Leonard, now 55, said he was assaulted by the unnamed coach on two occasions, according to the account in the Times.

The first was when he was competing at a tournament in Utica, New York at age 15. The second, years later, occurred in a car parked in a deserted lot when the coach was discussing with him his prospects at the 1976 Olympics.

“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,” Leonard wrote, according to the Times.

Leonard, who won the gold medal in the light welterweight division at the Montreal Olympics, said he had been haunted by the ordeal for years but decided to reveal it in his book to try to help his own healing process.

“I realized I would never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt,” he wrote.

In the book, Leonard also discusses his use of cocaine, fathering a child at age 17 and growing up in a household of alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

During his boxing career, Leonard won titles in five different weight divisions, and was universally regarded as one of the sport’s greatest fighters.



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