Manual The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring

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Who Is Sugar Ray Leonard?
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During the height of his boxing career from the late 's through the 's, Leonard The Champ "He, truly, is supreme in battle, Who would conquer himself alone, Rather than he who would conquer in battle A thousand, thousand men. During the height of his boxing career from the late 's through the 's, Leonard fought and won great fights in the ring against high caliber opposition including Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and in coming out of retirement his famous and controversial upset of Marvin Hagler.

Yet during the time he was vanquishing his ring opponents and cultivating a smooth, clean-cut public appearance, Leonard was nearly defeated by his own womanizing, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Leonard was a person who needed to conquer himself.

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Leonard tells his own story in this new autobiography, "The Big Fight" written ghostwritten with the assistance of sportswriter Michael Arkush. I was interested in this book because I lived in Washington, D. Autobiography is a difficult medium. In spite of the best of intentions, few writers of autobiographies are able to describe their lives honestly, both the good parts and the bad parts.

Sugar Ray Leonard does not fully succeed in this effort, but he makes a game attempt.

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Ray Charles Leonard was named for his mother's favorite singer. Leonard was a quiet, introspective boy who found what he wanted to do when he began to box at a club in suburban Maryland at the age of He progressed rapidly. Leonard gave himself the name "Sugar" after boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson. At first reluctant to turn pro, Leonard fought incessantly and successfully for the first three years of his professional career before winning his first championship in against Benitez in a grueling fight. Leonard suffered a detached retina and retired and came out of retirement four times during his career.

Leonard was fortunate in having trainers who stayed with him and a manager and attorney, Mike Trainer, who looked after Leonard's best interests and did not allow him to be taken advantage of in the corrupt boxing world. In his autobiography, Leonard makes much of his two identities, Ray and Sugar. Ray Leonard is the child of poor, hardworking parents who tries to behave decently in life.

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Sugar is the flamboyant boxer, powerful in the ring, but dependent upon the approval of others, egotistical, repeatedly unfaithful to his devoted wife and small children, and increasingly given to alcohol and substance abuse. Sugar sometimes takes the responsibility for his behavior upon himself; in other places in the book he tends to blame growing up in poverty, the continued fighting he witnessed between his parents, and two incidents of sexual abuse from older men that he suffered as an adolescent.

The book shows an individual who is devoted to what can only be described as his calling to be a boxer. Leonard was never so happy as when he was preparing for a fight or in the ring.


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He was a student of the "sweet science" and was able to size up his competition, physically and mentally, to play to his own strengths and his opponents weaknesses. He also loved the adoration of the crowds and of his immediate retinue, the many women who threw themselves at him, the thrill at being the best in his field, and the lavish sums of money he earned. Leonard also lost a loving wife and two children, and nearly self-destructed with alcohol and drugs. After his divorce in the late 's he ultimately remarried a woman named Bernadette Robi.

Sugar Ray Leonard Talks About Obsession, Abuse in New Memoir The Big Fight

He reduced his philandering over time and made progress in curing his drug and alcohol addictions. Ray Leonard over the course of his life has at last conquered Sugar. The fighter still remains. The strongest, most convincing, scenes of this book are those in which Leonard describes and offers his own views of his fights. The book is at its best in describing the first fight with Tommy Hearns in which Leonard won by a TKO in the 14th round after being behind on the scorecards. The fight with Hagler in also gets a good description from Leonard's point of view. In a major upset, Leonard won the fight by split decision, a result which remains controversial among die-hard boxing fans.

Leonard believes, probably rightly so, that he won the Hagler fight. But he admits that, he lost his brawling rematch with Thomas Hearns even though the fight was scored a draw. The book is colloquially and clearly written in words and thoughts that could well be Leonard's own. With some tendency to blame others for his misdeeds, the book shows a substantial attempt at honesty. At long last, Leonard says he is at peace with himself. As the book continued, I became increasingly drawn into it.

This is a book both about fighting with one's inner demons and about the fight game -- the brutal, corrupt but undeniably fascinating world of professional boxing. Robin Friedman Jun 24, Bruce Perry rated it it was amazing.

I have a special fan bond with Sugar Ray Leonard. An unforgettable trip in other ways: I was hitchhiking at night in southern Vermont and a black Porsche picked me up and took me right to where I was staying in Montreal. Then decades later, I went to Madison Square Garden and watched SRL's loss to a much younger Terry Norris, evidently indicating that the otherwise self-aware Sugar Ray had become yet another boxer to fight too many fights into an older age.

He admits so in his excellent memoir, a great read for boxing and Sugar Ray fans. He also during this time span battled mightily with internal demons including alcohol, cocaine, and womanizing —his fight, as the title puts it, "out of the ring. As if we needed anymore reminding, among celebrity athletes, human frailty often lives side by side with the heart of a lion. Although the personal revelations are honest and ring true, I enjoyed the many details and glimpses SRL provides about what it's like in the days and hours leading up to a championship fight; entering the arena to the roar of a boisterous Las Vegas venue and knowing that people like Muhammed Ali and Frank Sinatra are sitting in the front row, as well as that the likes of Hagler and Duran, lurking in the opposite corner, could permanently damage or even kill you in the next hour.

Sugar Ray never wanted to go pro after the Olympics, an aspect of his life I found fascinating and revealing. He wanted to go to college.


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  • But the lucrative endorsements post-Olympics that fell to the decathlete Bruce Jenner never made their way to Gold-medalistic Leonard, forcing him, he says, to change plans and decide to make money fighting perilous and exhausting battles with usually other black men from poor neighborhoods. Sugar Ray doesn't whine about this turn of events, simply presenting them as the limiting reality of being a young black athlete in the mids.

    As a conditioning geek, I was interested in his routines for putting on quality weight between the Olympics and the pros about to pounds, which took him months , but wanted more detail on how he was able to leap from to to fight the middleweight Hagler, while still maintaining the stamina and quickness of a lighter fighter.

    One knee-jerk theory could be PEDs or steroids, but I would quickly put that one to rest. Welterweight boxers, or any boxer for that matter, are not aiming for muscle bulk commonly the result of taking steroids , but for martial-arts level quickness and power. If anything, boxing is as much the art of graceful footwork and slipping punches as connecting with punches, and no one was better at the former sweet science than Sugar Ray. Aug 09, Thomas rated it really liked it.

    A great read. I'm a boxing fan who was never a fan of his. Over time I appreciated him more through his foes. After reading this i like him, foibles and all. I enjoyed the book and the writing flow. On to the next boxing read. Jul 31, Adam rated it really liked it. Moral of the story don't do drugs. Do follow your dreams.

    Life's not easy or fair this is Sugar Ray's account of the biggest fight of his life; against himself. Things my ear picked up on: It's not the sins we commit that will define us it's how we respond to them There's not a trace of B. Aug 11, Kimberly Hicks rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Everyone.

    Muhammad Ali - Wikipedia

    Shelves: read-on-kindle , african-american-read. Sugar Ray Leonard, by far, outside of Ali, is one of the all-time greatest fighters to ever grace the boxing ring. And what I loved most about Ray's book is his complete honesty in telling his life story, which I could tell was very, very difficult for him to do.