on 10 September 2012
This book is everything that you yearn for in a biography. Unlike Oscar De La Hoya's American Son, this is not a sanatised PR exercise. It is a frank, honest, account of Sugar Ray's account and a tale of remorse about his failures with drink, drugs and in wedlock.
I found the book to be compelling and very convincing as issues were addressed such as his financial differences with the late Angelo Dundee that Angelo had previously commented upon in his own book. It was nice to read both sides to the story and the views were consistent if not their respective opinions on the basis of Dundee's payment and the extent of his contribution to the team.
I found Sugar Ray's description of his opponents to be very open. He recognized that Dave Boy Green was not a difficult challenge, he openly admits that his performance was poor against Dick Eckland and most impressively he states that Thomas Hearns beat him in their second fight.
He does admit infidelity, cocaine and drink abuse and is open in his appraisal of his own performances, he recognises that to struggle against Kevin Howard meant it was time to stop.
It is a very compelling read, I read the book in a single day and afterwards have grown in admiration for Sugar Ray Leonard, yes he messed up at times but to recount this so objectively and honestly makes for an excellent biography
on 17 June 2013
This is an excellent book. Ray Leonard's honesty about his past and experiences is what makes this book so special. I am a boxing fan and I was drawn in from page one. Even people who are not boxing fans should read this book. Simply because it really highlights the mental side of the game. It is these mental facilities that made Leonard into one of the greats, yes he had to train hard and out work everybody in the gym, but what set him apart was his mental abilities. For psyching out his opponents, to being charming and articulate enough to win the hearts and imagination of the world.
The first chapter starts out with Leonard looking in the mirror figuring out who Marvin haggler will be fighting. The superstar boxing champion Sugar Ray or Ray the fighter and man along for the ride. Then a summary of the fight from Leonards first hand perspective. This alone is worth the price of the book. The book then goes back in chronological order. Starting with Ray's father. This part of the book reminded me of how racist America (actually the whole world) was at that time period. By Ray's time the seeds of equality had been set but they roots of racism were still very deep. Ray speaks openly about the time he was reminded of this or people tried to "put him back in his place".
Like I said earlier Ray's honesty is what makes this book special. He talks openly about his flaws, the temptations, and abuse he endured and or succumbs to. he say he knew what he was doing but at the time coming from nothing to becoming one of the most famous and biggest box office draw of his era. Again it is the mental side of dealing with things that where more a problem then the physical side. Not to say he had it easy physically either; damaged nerves in his hands among other injuries and the wear and tear of training and fighting at that level. I can't say it any better the Leonard; "people see our bulging muscles, and think we are superman, not feeling the fatigue and insectaries everyone else does".
Leonard does not blame anyone for his mistakes he take full responsibility for them. He gives all the credit due to his trainers and everyone who helped him. He does take this opportunity to set the record straight about things people have said about him in their own books and the media, but he does take the high road and does not name and shame other people he could have got into trouble especially when he is talking about his drug problems. Yes he made mistakes but he owns up to them and he give the facts like he is asking me (or any other reader) if suddenly you are in a situation you have everything you have worked you whole life for and more, do you think you are entitled to the excess and temptations the life of a superstar celebrity offers? The more mature Sugar Ray Leonard looks back and say nobody held a gun to his head but saying do this but in that situation what would anyone do? Say no to the women, the power player, yes man feeding his ego, and even the "friends" looking for hand outs. Many of who would encourage him to stay past his time.
One thing that comes through in this book is how grateful Leonard is about the life and opportunities he was given/earned. Also how thankful he is to have left boxing better then he went into it. His money well managed, still possessing his mental facilities, when so many of the boxers of her era suffering from everything including brain damage to bankruptcy.
This is a great book for everyone. Tremendous story. Brutally honest about the pit falls and rewards or success. Coming from some who has lived through more than most people have it mean so much more. You can even learn about the finer points of boxing and showman ship which people can use to further themselves in any walk of life or career. Great book, about a great career, and a man finding what he wants and what he needs including redemption.
on 29 February 2012
For anyone growing up in the late seventies and early eighties they will remember four names from boxing: Duran, Hagler, Hearns and Leonard. The late George Kimball's excellent book `Four Kings' covered this era and looked at the four fighters, yet here is a book written by one of those members of that elite club: Sugar Ray Leonard.
He first captured the public's imagination by winning a Gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. A few years after turning professional he won the World welterweight title from Wilfred Benitez and then between defences and comebacks fought the premium pound for pound best of his day: Duran, Hearns and Hagler in some of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated contests of the last half century.
Sugar Ray Leonard was big box office and on the outside seemed to have it all: money, fame, respect, a loving family and a lasting legacy in the Parthenon of All Time Greats. Yet this heartfelt autobiography reveals a much darker and far more complicated story than that.
I grew up believing the hype which the media presented: Sugar Ray Leonard the `Golden Boy' of boxing, the natural successor to Muhammad Ali (with Ali's legendary trainer Angelo Dundee in his corner), with his charm, winning smile and intelligence he appeared to have it all.
For the first time Leonard puts the record straight and a whole new story emerges as well as a more flawed and human Sugar Ray.
As I read this my jaw kept dropping as the revelations mounted. I will not reveal them here as you should read the book yourself but let's just say he did not have it easy!
Very early in life his trust was betrayed by those who should have had his interests at the forefront. He was dogged with hand trouble (a fighter's most important tools) as far back as his amateur career and this was one of the main reasons he announced his retirement after winning the Gold medal.
Some of the episodes here are familiar and Leonard is not alone as a sports star who has delved into alcohol, drugs and groupies, yet it is his searing honesty that impresses. This is no vanity project, rather it reads like a public exorcism as he rids himself of all his demons of the past and attempts to come to terms with what has made him the person he is. The answers may shock some fans of his.
I count myself as a fan of Leonard and believe he has been incredibly brave here. He could have easily written a straightforward account of his ring career and cherry picked episodes from his life to put him in the best light. Instead he shows us everything, even the most ugly episodes and heartbreaking moments and believe me he has had more than his fair share.
I went into this recalling the superstar of my youth, the media creation, the Hollywood version if you like. By the book's end I felt I had been granted access to a much murkier world where the main character had been through heaven and hell. This is a raw, engrossing and powerful account of the truth behind the myth and I recommend this to everyone who enjoys autobiographies whether they are a boxing fan or not.
on 12 December 2012
I can usually tell how good a book is by how long it takes for me to get through it. I was done with this in no time.
The Big Fight by Sugar Ray Leonard is an excellent autobiography. I already knew some of the background to his biggest fights from having read Four Kings by George Kimball and the Roberto Duran biography, 'Hands of Stone'. But there was still so much insight leading up to and during Leonard's greatest and worst moments in the ring that the book still reads very fresh as we are taken through his outside distractions during the build up to those fights, his psychological state when approaching those challenges and his opinion on his opponent.
The first two Duran fights and the Hearns and Hagler battles are obviously gone through in fair detail as you would expect, as well the Olympics and winning the title vs Benitez. But the 'lesser' fights he took in between these were interesting in how he approached and tried to balance his outside activities and stay motivated for them, which he found very difficult.
Sugar Ray is extremely honest in his exploits both inside and outside the ring. He had it all; the talent, the money and titles but that in itself is what brought the temptations. The endless women, alcohol and drugs. Having battled many demons over the years he readily admits he wasn't the best person to be around and that it impacted his relationship with his wife and first two children. There were things that happened to him during his childhood which he tried to shut out over years through the booze and drugs until he couldn't anymore.
Highly recommended for boxing fans.
on 18 March 2013
Having not been around to witness Sugar Ray Leonard perform in his heyday, my knowledge of him was very limited; and didn't stretch much further than listening to commentary of fights. However having glanced across this book, I thought it would be a good time to learn more about him; his career; and the great battles he shared with the greatest boxers of the 80s, Duran, Hagler and Hearns.
Sugar Ray does not disappoint. What I liked most about this book, is that looking back, Leonard is more than able to admit his mistakes and shows remorse for how his actions affected others, yet explains, honestly how he was lured into a life that only those at the top of their game and with such celebrity are able to afford, or are introduced to. He describes his continued adultery and his battles with drugs and alcohol.
The whole book is written excellently and Leonard provides in depth analysis and details to all of his key amateur fights, his early career bouts and his mega fights with the boxing superstars of the 80s, his duels with Duran, battles against Hearns and Hagler, as well as plenty other fights in between. Details include the team he put together, the types of training regimes he embarked on; and how at each step his career progressed, he was forced to analyse whether he should continue to fight or not. His honesty shines through at these points, as he admits that money and status played a large part in some of his decisions to carry on fighting.
The book reads very easily and Leonard does not hold back on bringing to light all aspects of his success, the good as well as the bad. A definite read for any boxing fans, but also a decent read for anybody who prefers autobiographies. All in all a good read and a great account of an impressive career.
on 9 September 2012
Like most people, I always pictured Leonard as representing a new type of black American - articulate, confident and middle class. In fact, he wasn't middle class at all - that was very much a media creation. He came from a troubled and deprived background that left many scars on his psyche and impelled him towards alcoholism and cocaine abuse.
This book is very modest and well-written. There are many positive ideas here that can be applied to everyday life. After all, Leonard defeated all the great welterweight and middleweight fighters of his era and his objective, logical strategy gave him victory after victory. His greatest contests are described in photographic detail, from the first bell to the last. He laid great emphasis on mental-preparedness, not just physical fitness and this lends the book a psychological gravitas normally lacking in books by professional athletes. But that was something that always struck me about Leonard - how he applied his intelligence to the art of boxing.
He is brutally candid about his ill-treatment of his wife and children, not to mention his cocaine addiction. He seems to blame all this on childhood sexual abuse but I suspect racism and poverty were important factors, too. You can't expect people to be perfect when all they have known is prejudice and negativity.
This is one of the best books I have ever read by a boxer, if not the best.
on 8 November 2012
A must read for any fan of those legendary 80's middle weight boxers. Sugar talks about his childhood in poverty, Olympic success as well as his rise to fame and many famous fights. His problems with alcohol & drugs. He talks about those great fights with Duran, Hearns & Hagler. Sugar is a very confident articulate speaker and his book does not disappoint. I would recommend a very good honest read, with (excuse the pun), no punches pulled!.
on 4 November 2013
The boxing star of the eighties, and one of the biggest boxing stars of all time, Sugar Ray Leonard was a poster boy for American boxing in the post-Ali era. From winning gold in the 1976 Olympics to winning numerous world boxing titles, he seemed to have it all. The Sugar Ray Leonard in this book is a complex character. By no means was he infallible - in fact, for much of his adult life, including during much of his boxing career, he was off the rails: a womanising, alcoholic, drug-taking mess. Leonard's story is a warning to many future boxing champions about the perils of fame and the effect it can have on your personal life. The book includes good, in-depth descriptions and opinions about Leonard's key bouts, in particular those against Duran, Hagler and Hearns. That Leonard was a boxing champion despite the travails of his personal life makes his success all the more spectacular.
on 31 March 2012
Just to supplement Mr Canns' spot on review also read Steve Marantz's "Sorcery at Caesars", just concerned with the Hagler fight & both combatants. Both books share the revelations of Rays' dark side, a real shocker to fans & an illustration of how good the PR machine is/was.
on 1 April 2013
Sugar Ray, one of the greatest pound for pound fighters in the history of boxing delivers this brutally honest account of his childhood, amateur/Olympic days as well as some of his biggest bouts.
All of his professional fights though are nothing compared to the heart aches (mostly caused by the Sugar man himself) and how he put his wife and son through hell by his selfish party and drug filled lifestyle.
This book is a must for any boxing fans as well as those that wonder how much of Sugar Ray Leonard was just legend or myth.