Sugar Ray Leonard: Olympic Boxing Coach Sexually Abused Me

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 7:15 PM EDT
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Hall-of-fame boxer Sugar Ray Leonard has opened up about sexual abuse in an upcoming book.

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Sugar Ray Leonard was sexually abused as a teenager by a “prominent Olympic boxing coach,” the ex-fighter turned sports broadcaster and “Dancing with the Stars” alum reveals in a new autobiography due out next month.

Leonard, 55, writes in “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring” that he was 15 when the first “inappropriate” incident occurred in 1971, The New York Times reported.

The unnamed coach had taken him and another young fighter to a boxing event in Utica, N.Y. and watched as both teenagers later bathed together in a tub, according to the Times.

Leonard recounts how the same coach abused him several years later in a parked car while they were discussing the upcoming 1976 Olympics. Leonard would later win a gold medal at the games.

“Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life,” Leonard writes, according to the Times. “I didn’t scream. I didn’t look at him. I just opened the door and ran.”

Leonard reveals in his book that he originally planned to allude to, but not detail, the abuse -- until he watched “Todd Bridges bare his soul on Oprah’s show” about the actor's history of childhood sexual abuse.

“I realized I would never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt,” Leonard writes, according to the Times.

The 5-time champion fighter also reportedly opens up about other painful moments from his past, including the time his mother stabbed his father in the back with a switchblade, and Leonard's past struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.

Back in April, the fighter became the third celebrity voted off the latest season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Head judge Len Goodman called Leonard the “heart of the season.”

Selected Reading: NYT, Off the Bench
 

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