On May 17, 1956, Olympic gold medalist and professional boxer Charles Ray “Sugar Ray” Leonard was born in Wilmington.
Leonard spent the majority of his formative years in the suburbs of Washington D.C. where, as a teenager, he discovered his love of boxing. At the age of 20, he dominated opponents in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and took ho
me the gold medal in the sport. Though he had originally planned to retire following the Olympics and go to college, his father’s mounting medical bills and the birth of his son persuaded Leonard to pursue boxing professionally.
In February 1977, Leonard fought the first of forty professional bouts, defeating Luis “The Bull” Vega and claiming a $40,000 prize. He went on to claim world titles in five different weight classes.
Despite his retirement in 1991, Leonard returned to the sport at age 40 to fight Hector “Macho” Camacho. The match was an embarrassing loss for Leonard and proved to be his last. Nevertheless, he finished his career with a record of 36 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw. Twenty-five of his wins were knock-outs.
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