Sugar Ray Leonard Turned to Boxing to Help His Dad Pay the Bills

Season 5 Episode 514
Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard is a living legend, winning world titles in five weight divisions and earning the nickname "the boxer of the 1980s." When he first stepped in the professional ring, however, he wasn't motivated by awards and recognition. He was simply trying to make ends meet for his family.

In 1976, Sugar Ray won the Olympic gold medal for boxing. As he stood on the podium and the National Anthem began playing, he says, he didn't know whether to scream out with joy or to cry. At that time, he thought his career was over and he would be going back to school. But everything changed when his father got sick.

"I had no thoughts about being a professional fighter because I've heard some horrible stories," he says. "I didn't want to be one of them, but I got home and my dad went into a coma and we had no money." After talking with his boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, Sugar Ray decided to go pro.

Today, Sugar Ray has no regrets about his decision, and it's clear that he made his parents proud. "I know my father's proud of me," he says. "When I presented my parents with their first home paid for, they shared tears like a waterfall, and I did the same."