NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former boxing champion and Season 12 “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sugar Ray Leonard has said that he was sexually abused as a teenager by a “prominent” Olympic coach, according to a report in the New York Times on Tuesday.
The newspaper said Leonard made the claim in his upcoming autobiography, “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring.”
Leonard, now 55, said he was assaulted by the unnamed coach on two occasions. The first was when he was competing at a tournament in Utica, N.Y, aged 15.
The second, several years later, happened in car parked in a deserted lot when the coach was discussing with him his prospects at the 1976 Olympics.
“Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life. I didn’t scream. I didn’t look at him. I just opened the door and ran,” Leonard wrote.
Leonard, who won the gold medal in the light welterwight division at the Montreal Olympics, said he had been haunted by the ordeal for years but decided to reveal it in his book in the hope that he would help his own healing process.
“I realized I would never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt,” he wrote.
In the book, Leonard also opened up about his use of cocaine, fathering a child at 17 and growing up in a household of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. The book is due to be published in June.
During his boxing career, Leonard won titles at five different weight divisions, and was universally regarded as one of the sport’s greatest fighters.
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