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Sugar Ray Leonard Speaks Out

The boxer's new book, The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, reveals his dual identities

Q: Your autobiography, The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, reveals that you were sexually molested as a teenager by older men in the amateur-boxing trade. What moved you to break your silence?

A: I kept that to myself for decades. Then last year I heard actors Todd Bridges and Tyler Perry talking about similar experiences, and it seemed they felt better getting that toxin out of their systems. It happened, I went through it, and I dealt with it. And you know something? Life goes on.

See also: The Safe at Home Foundation helps abused kids. 

Former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard talks about his life in and out of the boxing ring.

Photo by Deborah Wald

Sugar Ray Leonard opens up in his new book.

Q: Your life seemed split between aggressive boxer "Sugar Ray Leonard" and the more vulnerable "Ray Leonard." I'm tempted to say "schizophrenic."

A: That actually is the best term. I'm 55 now, and I've settled down, but when I look at the old photos on the walls of my gym, I have to ask, " Who is that guy Sugar Ray Leonard?" It's like I'm Sybil and he's another personality. I'm not that confrontational; I'm quiet, reserved, and laid-back. So there really are two personalities — no question.

Q: So which Ray Leonard was on Dancing with the Stars?

A: Oh, definitely Sugar Ray! [Laughs.] Ray was petrified, but Sugar Ray put on a good show. On the first day of rehearsals I asked myself, "Oh, man, what did I do?" — because my mind was telling my body to move left, and my body was saying, "No, no — just go get some coffee."

Q: How will fans recall you?

A: Not a day goes by that I don't hear "¡No más!" [Spanish for "No more!": the plea of boxing opponent Roberto Duran in 1980]. Someone always comes up in an airport, puts up their hands, and says, "¡No más!" I even heard it in the Australian Outback — and it's been 31 years!