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The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring Paperback – May 29, 2012
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“Champions come and go, but to be legendary you got to have heart, more heart than the next man, more than anyone in the world. Ray's heart was bigger than all the rest. He would never stop fighting.” — Muhammad Ali
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Like many Americans, I always thought of Leonard as the All-American athlete - pure and perfect. Certainly he is in the top ten of the all-time great boxers - at least in my opinion - having defeated some of his fellow all-time greats such as Marvin Hagler, Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns.
But I had no idea of what his life was really like during those years: sexual abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, womanizing on a scale not seen since Wilt Chamblerlain. He was to all intents and purposes in a horrible cyclone of his own making - from dysfunctional family, to "yes" men who tried to suck his fortunes dry.
A terrific book. As a boxing fan, Leonard explains all the ingredients in his training, thinking and fighting style. Great stuff.
Who would conquer himself alone,
Rather than he who would conquer in battle
A thousand, thousand men."
These words, from a Buddhist scripture called the Dhammapada, express a sentiment common to all religions. They also seem to me an appropriate motto for this autobiography of the famous boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard (b. 1956) who frequently called himself simply "the champ". During the height of his boxing career from the late 1970's through the 1980's, Leonard fought and won great fights in the ring against high caliber opposition including Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and in 1987 coming out of retirement his famous and controversial upset of Marvin Hagler. Yet during the time he was vanquishing his ring opponents and cultivating a smooth, clean-cut public appearance, Leonard was nearly defeated by his own womanizing, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Leonard was a person who needed to conquer himself.
Leonard tells his own story in this new autobiography, "The Big Fight" written (ghostwritten)with the assistance of sportswriter Michael Arkush. I was interested in this book because I lived in Washington, D.C. during Leonard's glory years and followed boxing during that time. Autobiography is a difficult medium. In spite of the best of intentions, few writers of autobiographies are able to describe their lives honestly, both the good parts and the bad parts. Sugar Ray Leonard does not fully succeed in this effort, but he makes a game attempt.
Ray Charles Leonard was named for his mother's favorite singer. Leonard was a quiet, introspective boy who found what he wanted to do when he began to box at a club in suburban Maryland at the age of 14. He progressed rapidly.Read more ›
He also began pulling down purses previously unheard of for non-heavyweight fighters. And, he was a winner. He handed Roberto Duran, a fighting machine, only his second loss in almost eighty fights. In his defining fight, he rallied from behind for a late round stoppage of a previously unbeaten Thomas Hearns. After a premature retirement brought on by a detached retina, he made a comeback after fighting only one fight in almost four years to challenge Marvin Hagler. This was significant for two reasons. He was stepping up two weight classes, and he was taking on a Champion who hadn't lost in ten years. Hagler had steamrolled through the middle weight division, laying waste to all legimate cantenders over a six year reign.
Sugar Ray walked into the ring a 4-1 underdog, and pulled off the stunning upset via a controversial decision.
But beneath the glare of the cameras and his celebrity persona, trouble brewed. His marriage and family life were badly shattered. His relationships with his wife and kids were fractured and non-existant. His battle with the bottle and cocaine were as painful as any punishment he took in the ring. Although, to the naked eye, he seemed to be a man who had everything, he was deeply unhappy.
Sugar Ray Leonard takes a refreshingly honest look at himself. A man never known for his humility dishes it out in heavy dosages here.Read more ›
This book, details in a chronological fashion, many events throughout Sugar Ray Leonard's life...beginning with his childhood, the circumstances that lead him into boxing, his rise to fame and glory within the boxing world and maybe most importantly, how that life of success and achievement almost destroyed this remarkable athlete.
Initially I found a lot of childhood info, particularly in early chapters, that while may have important and interesting to some, was not what I'd bought this book for. I had expected that Leonard had come from a poor black neighborhood and grew up with few advantages in life...what I'd wanted was the details of his boxing career and the things that influenced this period in his life. However, as I got deeper into his story, I began to realize that these childhood anecdotes did in fact have a major influence in his boxing development and then later on when things began to drift out of control.
Also, the revelations in this book made me realize just how naive a person (me) can be about a perceived hero...Sugar Ray Leonard. During his boxing and commentary career he was one of the few sports figures that I always truly admired...he was, as he says in his own words personable and charismatic and this was how I thought of him, until I read this book. To witness your hero display and succumb to the human frailties that were exposed in this book...his unabashed philandering, the alcohol abuse and cocaine addiction, was to say the least, eye opening and disturbing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With the new Sugar Ray movie coming out I wanted to get his autobiography so I knew the story. The book is super easy to read and is written to keep things interesting. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Jeffrey
A very easy read. Ray opens up about his personal struggles, and gives in depth details about the fight between Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Leonard. Great book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cooke-WilmDE
This was an excellent book about the highs and lows of Sugar Ray Leonard's life, in and out of the boxing ring. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Victor Torres
The most poignant moment in a celebrities life often happens when they look back on all they have done only to realize that the most important moments happened far from the public... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alex Hutchinson's Twisted Trails