Post image for Sugar Ray Leonard – The Interview

Sugar Ray Leonard – The Interview

by Fran on June 23, 2012

This is my picture of the great Sugar Ray Leonard.  It is a watercolour that I had painted around about 20 years ago by an artist friend of mine.  I paid the princely sum of £30 and I was very happy with my foray into the art world.

So, of all the fighters that I could have chosen, I chose Sugar Ray.  I love the guy.  I thought his achievements in the boxing ring were magnificent and these achievements were matched by his effervescent personality, sharp intellect and boundless charisma.  In short, he was truly a boxing golden boy.

If you are a fan of Sugar Ray then you may wish to take 15 minutes to check out this interview with the great man.  Ben Doughty is the interviewer and puts together a nice array of questions dating back to Ray’s amateur days right up to the curtain-closer events of his fabulous career.  I suppose you could call this an ‘insider’s interview’.

For the record though, I don’t agree with Ben’s (very strong) views on the Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs Sugar Ray Leonard fight.  I make mention of it in the post on Marvelous Marvin Hagler Boxing Style Analysis and for my money Marvin (the defending champion) won by 2 points.  It has to be said though that Ray did put in a great performance well worthy of adulation.

Here’s the interview, any comments then you know what to do, put them into the comment section below.



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl June 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I love watching Leonard matches. For me his greatest talent was his intellectual approach to boxing. He out-thought ’em before he out-fought ’em. He was like a mountaineer, standing on the plain looking up at the challenge about to be faced, surveying every possible route to the summit, noting the weather, testing the equipment, and then finally when he knows exactly how – attacking the foe. I also admire him for being one of the rare boxers who seems able to handle his money without blowing it on endless bad deals and investments.

However, I share Paul’s attitude when it comes to Leonard’s character. Not so much from sources like Dundee (I actually think Leonard and Mike Trainer had a case) but from Leonard’s own autobiography. He really was a douchbag for a long stretch of years. The way he treated his first wife and his need for a sycophantic entourage are just two examples. In many ways he was so modern and in others such a throwback to champions of old. He had raw talent like his namesake Robinson, and the moral vices of Joe Louis, et al, with their serial infidelity. But hey, I guess that puts him in good company.

To this day I’m rather judgmental about “the entourage” in boxing. The Leonards and Mayweathers being good examples. Even Pacquiao puts me off with his need to be surrounded by yes-men and ass-kissers (though reading HIS biography adds some perspective. for example; it’s weird that many of his people sleep on the floor around his bed when he’s in training camp, until you realize that this is exactly how it was in the dirt poor gyms of his youth where all the fighters slept sprawled out in the same room wherever they went).

I guess like everyone the great champions are full of vice and virtue and everything in between. It’s up to us to sort out the admirable and exemplary aspects of these great fighters, and perhaps ignore the rest.


Fran June 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm


I absolutely understand the entourage point. I guess my measuring stick was Marvin Hagler, a man who had an entourage of two and carried his own bag to the venue; true legend material. And on Pac, I’ve just finished reading his biography and you’re right, there’s definitely left over issues from his intolerably tough childhood. The same was true of Duran, his ravenous food binges in adulthood and his determination to spend his money on the people back in Chorillo.

What can we do. Leonard’s not the first fighter to have some very dubious behaviours in his private life and he certainly won’t be the last. The question we have to ask is exactly what kind of relationship we want with that fighter. Do we want to purely admire their fighting skills (by far the easiest thing to do), or do we want to take an internal moral stand and stop watching them altogether? Given that David Haye will be boxing Derek Chisora this summer, many boxing fans in the UK will have to ask themselves that question. I for one will not be watching those two exchange blows, but that’s an easy decision, neither of them even qualify to be in the comments section on any post on this site let alone one on Leonard.

Thanks mate.


Paul Smith June 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Fran, that was a great interview and although I liked him as a fighter, after reading Angelo Dundee’s book ‘My View From The Corner’, I lost respect for Ray Leonard. IMO, there is only one Sugar Ray and that is the original – Walker Smith, aka Sugar Ray Robinson.
Leonard was a selfish, greedy opportunist and although he won against Hearns and Hagler, I think they were the better fighters and men.
I’ll give Ray credit for being honest during this interview however, but that is only a result of the Dundee book.
We all know Angelo was a great man and trainer who handled many great champions, especially The Greatest Muhammad Ali, who was always loyal to Angelo, but Ray Leonard imo, was undeserving of his association with either of them.
Leonard loved money more than morality and was more loyal to his lawyer (he sneakily had Mike Trainer play hardball with Dundee and cheated (his friend?) Angelo) than to the man and trainer who helped him attain success. Yea, he fought well in the ring, but away from the ring his behaviour left a lot to be desired.
Fran, I don’t want to take anything away from your admiration and appreciation of Ray Leonard as a fighter, but earlier this year you wrote of a fighter who was showed his gratitude to you by having the ‘My Boxing Coach’ logo on his trunks. It was a small gesture, borne out of loyalty and appreciation to you, but the impact and significance was huge to you because of the acknowledgement. Now what price can one put on that?


Fran June 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’ve not read the book yet Paul, but fully intend to. Clearly loyalty is something we like to see in our heroes, and when disloyalty is demonstrated it shatters the image. It’s amazing, because Ali was under so much pressure during his career to dump Angelo, but he would never hear of it. Dundee was who was right for him and he knew it. Then again, Ali’s treatment of Joe Frazier was anything but loyal, especially after Joe had done so much for him during Ali’s 3-year absence.

The human frailty I guess Paul.

Great comment mate, really appreciate it.


Ivan June 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hi Fran,
Nice painting, wilder than the man himself who’s a smooth cat. He was one of the wizards in boxing and the nickname “Sugar” was well chosen. A boxer’s stature is defined by his opponents and there was no shortage of talent in his time.
The one and only Duran with the infamous “No mas” incident gave Leonard his big star bona fides. After that there were Hagler and Hearns – I’d give those two a legitimate chance against a prime Rocky Marciano in a 12 rounder (this is not a joke and I’m aware of the division differential).
Although Leonard had too much talent for his own good, the part of his arsenal that I like most is his jab. He put people down with jabs as an amateur, then knocked down even Wilfred Benitez with a jab. Having a stiff jab, making it count and using it actually as a power punch is an impressive weapon. I could add from my own experience that a hefty jab to the body is effective even with amateur size gloves.


Fran June 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Absolutely Ivan. His long range work was great, and I’m sure that during the 2nd Duran fight some of those jabs he landed had to hurt. The Hearns performance was something to behold. To turn around what was a lost cause in such emphatic fashion rightly places is as one of the most memorable welterweight clashes ever, if not the most.

Oh to possess that level of talent!


Ivan February 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Hi Fran,
Speaking of hefty jabs to the body, I have to mention Sergey Kovalev and his body jabbing. He has turned his jab to the plexus/sternum into a wrecking ball. He used it against Hopkins and Pascal to great effect and against Agnew whose southpaw stance was problematic for Sergey, he unlocked his guard with a jab to the liver and ended the fight.
I had not heard of Kovalev yet back in 2012 when this post appeared, discovered him in 2013, but it’s nice to see someone concentrate on a basic and often underestimated punch and use its full potential.
Best regards.


Fran February 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Hi Ivan

I hope you’re well.

Yes, Kovalev impresses me greatly. Really like the idea of him in the ring with Andre Ward, a real clash of styles.


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