Preparations for season 12 of “Dancing with the Stars” got off on the wrong foot for boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard and his partner, Anna Trebunskaya.
Both were pulled over for speeding – five minutes apart – by the same cop on the way to their first rehearsal.
“The policeman pulled me over and says, ‘Ma’am, you were speeding,’” Anna tells xfinityTV. “And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I am running late to rehearsal with Sugar Ray Leonard for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ And he says ‘You are late, aren’t you? Say hello to Mr. Leonard for me.’”
Russian beauty Anna, who is married to fellow “Dancing” pro Jonathan Roberts, said both escaped without a ticket: “I think he kind of felt sorry for us. He was like, ‘Go. Just don’t be late any other times…and drive safe.’”
Since then, preparation for the show – which kicks off Monday night – couldn’t be going better, Anna told us when we caught up on Thursday…
Q: What are Sugar Ray’s strengths going into the competition?
His strength is that he is a really fun person. He enjoys dancing. He does it because he loves to do it. He told me yesterday, “I discovered dancing at the age of 55.” When I dance with him we have a lot of fun. He is a real entertainer. Even when he used to box in the ring, he was a real entertainer. He made a show out of the event. It wasn’t just about punching the person. It was a mental war game. And he has really good footwork. He is really light on his feet.
Q: Any weaknesses?
Well, because he was a boxer so long, his posture is just completely opposite what a dancer’s posture should be.
Q: Do you play the theme to “Rocky” at rehearsals?
Not always. [laughs] But we have fun. We have our own little jokes and inside things. We gotta make sure we don’t forget to eat as well. Ray sometimes comes to rehearsal and I look at him like “Have you had breakfast?” And he is like, “No.” I have to remind him to eat.
Q: How is it that you keep getting all the jocks? Are you campaigning for this?
No. I have no say in who the producers of the show pair me with. It is completely their choice. But they first of all pick you as a personality. They want to match personalities. Then they somehow it happens that those people happen to be athletes.
Q: How does your husband [‘DWTS’ pro Jonathan] feel about you always getting the quarterbacks and the boxers?
He loves it. Those are the guys he is big fans of. He is excited to meet each one. Whether it is Kurt Warner or Jerry Rice or Sugar Ray Leonard. Those are all amazing guys and great athletes. He is looking forward to meeting them all the time.
Q: Do you have to say “Jonathan, go away. We are trying to work”?
Sometimes. We keep it very clean during rehearsals. We try not to have our spouses come. But right after or right before they will pop in and hide. We’ll go have dinner together on the weekend. I am really enjoying the fact that Ray is married and has kids. It is almost like we are going on a double date.
Q: You guys own a dance studio in Hermosa Beach, CA, called “You Can Dance.” Business must be booming with you being on TV….
It is doing alright. It has been a lot of fun and it is great for us to see how the show has influenced America about dancing. That dancing is cool again. It is one of those things that couples do to spend some time together. Younger guys come in and want to learn when it used to be not cool at all. Kids want to learn how to dance because they see it on TV and they go “I want to be a ballroom dancer.” So it is kind of neat.