History | May 17 2019

On This Day: The great Sugar Ray Leonard was born

He was born on 17 May 1956, he was perfectly proportioned, graceful, quick and ruthless, Sugar Ray Leonard had it all, writes our former editor Claude Abrams
sugar ray leonard
Sugar-Ray-Leonard  |  Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

IF you had to describe the ultimate fighter, Sugar Ray Leonard wouldn’t be far off the mark. Perfectly proportioned, with cat-like grace, intensely competitive, magically quick, chillingly ruthless and dashingly handsome, it was hardly a surprise the son of a nurse and supermarket manager became a boxing hero.

Leonard was such a supreme talent that he only started boxing at 15 and the following year, when under-age, almost sneaked in to the 1972 Olympic team.

However, had it not been for his parents’ ill-health and an unplanned child to his then-girlfriend, Leonard might not have even turned professional after striking Olympic gold, in spite of bad hands, in 1976.