Randolph Lalonde Biography & Facts
Ray Charles Leonard (born May 17, 1956), best known as "Sugar" Ray Leonard, is an American former professional boxer, motivational speaker, and occasional actor. Often regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, he competed professionally between 1977 and 1997, winning world titles in five weight classes; the lineal championship in three weight classes; as well as the undisputed welterweight championship. Leonard was part of the "Four Kings", a group of boxers who all fought each other throughout the 1980s, consisting of Leonard, Roberto Durán, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler. Leonard also won a light welterweight gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
The "Four Kings" created a wave of popularity in the lower weight classes that kept boxing relevant in the post-Muhammad Ali era, during which Leonard defeated future fellow International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Hearns, Durán, Hagler, and Wilfred Benítez. Leonard was also the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses, and was named "Boxer of the Decade" in the 1980s. The Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year in 1979 and 1981, while the Boxing Writers Association of America named him Fighter of the Year in 1976, 1979, and 1981. In 2002, Leonard was voted by The Ring as the ninth greatest fighter of the last 80 years. In 2016, he was voted by The Ring to be the greatest living fighter. BoxRec ranks him as the 14th greatest boxer of all time, pound for pound.
Leonard, the fifth of seven children of Cicero and Getha Leonard, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was named after Ray Charles, his mother's favorite singer. The family moved to Washington, D.C., when he was three, and they settled permanently in Palmer Park, Maryland when he was ten. His father worked as a supermarket night manager and his mother was a nurse. He attended Parkdale High School. Leonard was a shy child, and aside from the time he nearly drowned in a creek during a flood in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, his childhood was uneventful. He stayed home a lot, reading comic books and playing with his dog. His mother said: "He never did talk too much. We never could tell what he was thinking. But I never had any problems with him. I never had to go to school once because of him."
Leonard started boxing at the Palmer Park Recreation Center in 1969. His older brother, Roger, started boxing first. Roger helped start the boxing program, urging the center's director, Ollie Dunlap, to form a team. Dave Jacobs, a former boxer, and Janks Morton volunteered as boxing coaches. Roger won some trophies and showed them off in front of Ray, goading him to start boxing.
In 1972, Leonard boxed in the featherweight quarterfinals of the National AAU Tournament, losing by decision to Jerome Artis. It was his first defeat. Later that year, he boxed in the Eastern Olympic Trials. The rules stated that a boxer had to be seventeen to box in international competition, so Leonard, only sixteen, lied about his age.: 1 He made it to the lightweight semifinals, losing a disputed decision to Greg Whaley, who took such a beating that he wasn't allowed to continue in the trials and never boxed again.Sarge Johnson, assistant coach of the US Olympic Boxing Team, said to Dave Jacobs, "That kid you got is sweet as sugar". The nickname stuck. However, given his style and first name, it was probably only a matter of time before people started calling him Sugar Ray, after the man many consider to be the best boxer of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson.: 7–8 In 1973, Leonard won the National Golden Gloves Lightweight Championship, but lost to Randy Shields in the lightweight final of the National AAU Tournament. The following year, Leonard won the National Golden Gloves and National AAU Lightweight Championships. Leonard suffered his last two losses as an amateur in 1974. He lost a disputed decision to Anatoli Kamnev in Moscow, after which, Kamnev gave the winner's trophy to Leonard. In Poland, local fighter Jan Kwacz was given a disqualification victory over Leonard after being knocked down three times in the first round but the referee ruled that Leonard had punched after the bell.Leonard won the National Golden Gloves and National AAU Light Welterweight Championships in 1974. The following year, he again won the National AAU Light Welterweight Championship, as well as the Light Welterweight Championship at the Pan American Games.
In 1976, Leonard made the U.S. Olympic Team as the light welterweight representative. The team also included Leon and Michael Spinks, Howard Davis Jr., Leo Randolph, Charles Mooney, and John Tate. Many consider the 1976 U.S. team to be the greatest boxing team in the history of the Olympics. Leonard won his first four Olympic bouts by 5–0 decisions. In the semifinals, he faced Kazimierz Szczerba and won a 5–0 decision.
In the final, Leonard boxed the great Cuban knockout artist Andrés Aldama, who scored five straight knockouts to reach the final. Leonard landed several good left hooks in the first round. In the second, he dropped Aldama with a left to the chin. Late in the final round, he again hurt Aldama, which brought a standing eight count from the referee.
With only a few seconds left in the fight, a Leonard combination forced another standing eight count. Leonard was awarded a 5–0 decision and the Olympic gold medal. Afterward, Leonard announced, "I'm finished...I've fought my last fight. My journey has ended, my dream is fulfilled. Now I want to go to school." He was given a scholarship to the University of Maryland, a gift from the citizens of Glenarden, Maryland. He planned to study business administration and communications.: 42–43 He finished his amateur career with a record of 165–5 and 75 KOs.
1973 National Golden Gloves Lightweight Champion, defeating Hilmer Kenty
1973 National AAU Light Welterweight Championship runner-up, losing to Randy Shields
1974 National Golden Gloves Light Welterweight Champion, defeating Jeff Lemeir
1974 National AAU Light Welterweight Champion, defeating Paul Sherry
1974 North American Championships Gold Medalist, defeating Robert Proulx
1975 National AAU Light Welterweight Champion, defeating Milton Seward
1975 North American Championships Gold Medalist, defeating Michel Briere
1975 Pan American Games Light Welterweight Gold Medalist, defeating Victor Corona
1976 Olympic Light Welterweight Gold Medalist, defeating Andrés AldamaOlympic results1/32: Defeated Ulf Carlsson (Sweden) by unanimous decision, 5–0
1/16: Defeated Valery Limasov (Soviet Union) by unanimous decision, 5–0
1/8: Defeated Clinton McKenzie (Great Britain) by unanimous decision, 5–0
1/4: Defeated Ulrich Beyer (East Germany) by unanimous decision, 5–0
1/2: Defeated Kazimierz Szczerba (Poland) by unanimous decision, 5–0
Finals: Defeated Andrés Aldama (Cuba) by unanimous decision, 5–0Change of plans
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