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Sugar Ray was ring artist

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Duran wanted "no mas" of Leonard
By Fred W. Kiger
Special to

Signature Bout
Nov. 25, 1980 - When Sugar Ray Leonard lost his welterweight crown to Roberto Duran in June, he blamed himself for getting into a street brawl because he didn't like Duran's way. In New Orleans, Leonard conquered his stubbornness and boxed the Panamanian macho man into submission.

His taunting got under the skin of the fighter known for his "Fists of Stone," but showed the heart of a chicken tonight. The worst humiliation came in the seventh round when Leonard wound up his right hand, as if to throw a bolo punch, and then surprised Duran by slapping a left jab in his face.

With 16 seconds left in the eighth round, Duran, whose professional life had been built upon the precepts of Latin American machismo, had enough. He told the referee, "No mas, no mas." And the myth of Duran's invincibility was shattered.

After regaining his title, Leonard said, "To make a man quit, to make a Roberto Duran quit, was better than knocking him out."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Leonard's father, Cicero, boxed while in military service and had a 39-1 record.

  • As a kid, Leonard read comic books by the hundreds.

  • Too small to play basketball, he was more interested in wrestling and gymnastics.

  • In 1972, Leonard lied about his age -- he said he was 16 instead of the required 17 -- to try out for the U.S. Olympic team. He reached the semifinals of the Olympic Trials before losing.

  • On the night that he won his Olympic gold medal in Montreal in 1976, Leonard taped a picture of his two-year-old son, Ray Jr., to one of his boxing shoes.

  • Leonard was one of five Americans to win Olympic gold in Montreal. The others were Howard Davis, Leo Randolph, and Leon and Michael Spinks.

  • In Leonard's professional debut, he won a six-round decision over Luis "the Bull" Vega on Feb. 5, 1977 in Baltimore.

  • That fight, shown on CBS, had one of the highest ratings ever for a boxing telecast.

  • From Nov. 30, 1979 to Sept. 16, 1981, Leonard defeated five champions whose combined record was 177-1-1 when they faced him.

  • His first wife, Juanita, was so concerned about his health that Leonard agreed to undergo a battery of medical tests after every bout.

  • In his first fight against Roberto Duran, the Panamanian attacked Leonard so viciously that Juanita fainted in her seat.

  • Leonard and Juanita married in 1980 and divorced in 1990. They had two sons, Ray Jr. and Jamel.

  • Separated from Juanita, Leonard was introduced to actress/model Bernadette Robi by entertainer Kenny G in 1989 at a Luther Vandross concert in Los Angeles.

  • Bernadette is the daughter of one of the original Platters, Paul Robi, and is the ex-wife of former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann.

  • The two were married in August 1993 at Leonard's $8.7 million dollar estate in Pacific Palisades, Cal. At the wedding ceremony, the grounds had been converted into a massive garden with 10,000 roses and blossoms of other flowers flown in from Holland.

  • They have two children, Camille and Daniel Ray.

  • At one time, Leonard endorsed Callaway golf clubs.

  • He detests air-conditioning.

  • Trying his hand at acting, Leonard once played the role of a gravedigger in an episode from "Tales from the Crypt."

  • Leonard was inducted into boxing's Hall of Fame in June 1997.

  • In a pre-induction golf tournament, officials made certain that Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler were not in the same foursome.

  • Leonard is still involved these days in boxing -- but as a promoter.

  • He adds to his bank account by being a motivational speaker.

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