Sugar Ray Leonard is an Olympic gold medalist and one of the only boxers to have won world titles in five different weight classes. An iconic athlete of the late 70s and 80s, he is considered one of the best boxers of all time.
Speaking on the Apple Fitness+ series Time to Walk, the athlete explained what really got him into the sport and why he stuck around.
“When I won the Olympic gold medal in Montreal in 1976, I had no idea of becoming a professional boxer because I heard horrible stories about boxing champions making money and, in in the end they had nothing.. It was all gone. And I didn’t want that to happen to me. So I thought about going to the University of Maryland because I had a scholarship, to pursue my studies, find a great job and go from there,” he explains during the walk. “My father was an amazing man, he was not very educated, but he worked so hard. He worked crazy hours , maybe 50, 60 hours a week. He was one of the nicest men in the world and it was almost his fault because when he was sick he didn’t talk about it. I didn’t know that my dad was as sick as him because he never complained he didn’t say he felt bad because he had spinal meningitis and tuberculosis lose.
After the 1976 Olympics, her father’s health really deteriorated. He lost a lot of weight and money started to become a huge problem.
“That’s when I asked my, my mentor, ‘How can I make money fast?’ Yeah, those are exactly the words I used: ‘How can I make a quick buck? Be an actor, be this or be that? He said, “Be a pro fighter. That’s the fastest way. And I didn’t think twice about it. The only reason I turned professional was to help my mom and dad,” says Leonard.
“It all happened so fast. I turned pro in 19-, what, ’77. I became world champion in 1979. I was making money, and because I was doing so well financially in such a short time, that’s why I felt it was so right to give them what they had been dreaming for so many years. . My parents never owned a house. My parents did the best they could with what they had. And that’s why I felt it was so right to give them their first home, I mean, even before me.