In his upcoming autobiography, Hall-of-Fame fighter Sugar Ray Leonard says that he was sexually abused by a “prominent Olympic boxing coach” in the early 1970s.
In a passage from “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” Leonard remembered a now-deceased coach accompanying him and another fighter to an event in Utica, NY in 1971, and having the pair take a bath in a tub of hot water while he sat on the other side of the bathroom. The famed boxer -- who would later go on to struggle with cocaine and alcohol addiction -- was 15 at the time.
Then, years later, Leonard recalled sitting in a parked car in a deserted lot discussing how much a 1976 Olympic gold medal would mean to his future when his coach suddenly made an unexpected sexual advance on him. The events that would go on to transpire in that car, in his own words:
“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.’’
Accusations of improprieties by Olympic coaches are nothing new, though that doesn’t lessen the magnitude of Leonard’s revelations. Despite the explicit details he would go on to include in the book, Leonard never named the coach in question.
Leonard’s book is due out in June.