Sugar Ray Leonard Reveals Coach Sexually Abused Him When He Was 15

In a week that has seen 2 shocking revelations in the sport’s world (Suns President Rick Welts and former Villanova player Will Shelton both made announcements about their sexuality this week,) former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard has made an announcement of his own.

Lenoard’s autobiography, “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring” will be released in June. The boxer details his cocaine abuse, growing up in a home with domestic violence, becoming a father at 17 and how he was molested as a young fighter by an unnamed “prominent Olympic boxing coach.”

Leonard delivers the book’s bombshell, while indirectly addressing a growing concern in the sports industry at large. He reveals publicly for the first time that he was sexually abused as a young fighter by an unnamed “prominent Olympic boxing coach.”

Leonard writes that when the coach accompanied him as a 15-year-old and another young fighter to a boxing event in Utica, N.Y., in 1971, he had the teenagers take a bath in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts while he sat on the other side of the bathroom. They suspected “something a bit inappropriate” was occurring but did not want to question a strong male authority figure.

Several years later, Leonard describes sitting in a car in a deserted parking lot across from a recreation center, listening intently as the same coach, said to be in his late 40s, explained how much a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics would mean to his future.

He was flattered, filled with hope, as any young athlete would be. But he writes: “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.”

I know for some announcements such as this can feel a tad opportunistic. Just a way of getting the media’s attention for any number of reasons. I feel like no matter the reason, it’s a brave thing to reveal details like this. The more attention brought to these situations, the more likely that someone else out there will benefit from hearing his story.