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NEW YORK (AP) — Wilmington native Sugar Ray Leonard says in his upcoming autobiography that he was sexually abused by a coach as a young boxer in the early 1970s.

In “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” the Hall of Famer writes than an unnamed “prominent Olympic boxing coach,” who has since died, assaulted him in a car in a deserted parking lot across the street from a rec center after praising his bright future.

Leonard, who turned 55 on Tuesday, won a gold medal at the 1976 Games then went on to capture five world titles in five weight classes.

He writes: “I do know that I was in a lot of pain as I chased my dream of winning the gold.”

The book, written with Michael Arkush, is due out next month. The account of abuse was first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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4 Comments on "Wilmington native Leonard says in book he was abused by coach"

2015 years 10 months ago

Wikipedia says that Sugar Ray was born in Rocky Mount, not Wilmington… I looked it up because I had never heard that he was born here.

Kevin Wuzzardo
2015 years 10 months ago


Thanks for your comment. I noticed that earlier today, too, but check just about every other source, and you’ll see Wilmington listed. In fact, there’s a Sugar Ray Leonard Lane over off Dawson Street in Wilmington in his honor.

The thing about Wikipedia is that even though it’s a great resource, it’s often wrong, in large part because anyone can edit the information. I have found Rocky Mount from one other reputable source, so I’m not sure why the confusion, but I’ve always learned he hailed from the Port City!

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Guest Apu
2015 years 10 months ago

I won’t beleive it until he produces his long-form birth certificate…

2015 years 10 months ago

Although I haven’t did any deep research, chances are he probably was born in Rocky Mount, as a lot of recent sources state…then moved to Wilmington when he was 3. I recently found out he’s a relative on my mothers side. My mother is from Rocky Mount. However Ray’s parents and my mothers, mother is from Mullins, SC. That’s where I know for a fact we connect, according to information I learned through our family reunion. I researced the Mullins connection, however I was shocked to discover the Rocky Mount connection.


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