Sugar Ray Leonard is thought of as one of the gratest boxers of all time as a result of his incredible performances in the ring. He beat some of the best fighters of his generation.
Born in Wilmington North Carolina on the 17th of May 1956 Ray Charles Leonard the fifth of seven children of Cicero and Getha Leonard. When Leonard was 3 years old, he and his family moved to Washington, D.C. Seven years later, they relocated to a permanent home in Palmer Park, Maryland. Leonard grew up in a loving home, where finances were often tight. His father earned a living as a night manager at a supermarket, while Gertha worked as a nurse. He was a shy child and never had much to say having a fairly uneventful upbringing and not particularly excelling or finding an interest in any particular skill or hobby. That was until his his two older brothers, who had begun to dabble in boxing, convinced him to visit the Palmer Park Community Center (their local recreation center) and strap on some gloves. His life would never be the same again.
The ambitious of this young fighter became apparent as he stormed his way up the amateur rankings which culminated with him winning gold at the 1976 Olympics in a legendary US Olympic boxing team that included Leon and Michael Spinks, Howard Davis and John Tate. In the final he met the fearsome Cuban Andres Aldama who had racked up 5 straight knockout victories en-route. Ray dropped his opponent in the second and forced a standing eight count in the fifth and won the contest by a 5-0 decision. He finished his amateur career with a record of 145–5 and 75 KO's.
Sugar fought the fearsome Roberto "hands of stone" Duran on June 20th 1980 in the Olympic Stadium Montreal. The WBC world welterweight title was on the line in front of a huge global crowd. Leonard was a tricky boxer with a tendancy to dance around the ring and masterfully pick his opponents off but in this fight he played into the hands of Duran and met him toe to toe in the middle of the ring. Duran kept the pressure on all fight not giving Leonard any room to manoever and eventually won by a unanimous decision.
The rematch took place in New Orleans and was an entirely different story. This time Leonard didn't stay still for a second, constantly on the move, evading the oncoming Duran and landing clean shots whenever the opportunity arised. It was a masterclass by Leonard. The fight ended with Duran giving up in the eighth round. Duran had turned his back to his opponent and said the famous line "no mas" to the referee, A moment that would go down in boxing history.