Sugar Ray was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses, and defeated future fellow International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Wilfred Benítez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Durán and Marvin Hagler.
Leonard started boxing at the Palmer Park recreation center in 1969.
In 1973, Leonard won the National Golden Gloves Lightweight Championship, but lost to Randy Shields in the lightweight final of the National AAU Tournament. The following year, Leonard won the National Golden Gloves and National AAU Lightweight Championships.
Leonard won the National Golden Gloves and National AAU Light Welterweight Championships in 1974. The following year, he again won the National AAU Light Welterweight Championship, as well as the Light Welterweight Championship at the Pan American Games.
In 1976, Sugar Ray Leonard made the U.S. Olympic Team as the light welterweight representative. The team also included Leon and Michael Spinks, Howard Davis, Jr., Leo Randolph, Charles Mooney and John Tate. Many consider the 1976 U.S. team to be the greatest boxing team in the history of the Olympics.
He finished his amateur career with a record of 145–5 and 75 KO’s.
Leonard has worked as a boxing analyst for ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and HBO. His relationship with HBO lasted for more than a decade.
Sugar Ray has done commercial endorsements for numerous companies, including Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Ford, Nabisco, Revlon and 7 Up. His most famous commercial was a 7 Up ad he did with his son, Ray Jr., Roberto Duran and Duran’s son Roberto Jr. in the early 1980s.
Leonard has also worked as an actor. He has appeared in numerous television shows, including Half & Half, L.A. Heat, Married With Children, Renegade and Tales From The Crypt. He has also appeared in several movies, including I Spy and most recently The Fighter, starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. This movie brought back memories of his fight with Dicky Eklund.
In 2001, Leonard launched Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Inc., a boxing promotional company, and announced the company’s strategic partnership with ESPN.
Leonard competed on season 12 of Dancing with the Stars, which premiered on Monday, March 21, 2011, on ABC. His partner was Anna Trebunskaya.
For many years, Leonard has been the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for a Cure and is actively involved in raising both awareness and funds.
Leonard and his wife, Bernadette, founded the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and its annual Walk for a Cure. In 2009, the foundation expanded to support programs that help people rebuild their communities in ten cities across the United States. It supports accessible housing, healthcare services, and educational services and job training.
One of the most respected figures broadcasting history, Sugar Ray Leonard is in demand as an after dinner speaker and event host.