By his mid-teens Leonard proved adept at boxing, and as an amateur he won 145 of 150 bouts and garnered two National Golden Glove championships (1973, 1974), two Amateur Athletic Union championships (1974, 1975), and a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games. Following his Olympic victory in 1976, he announced his retirement from the sport but reentered the ring as a professional on Feb. 5, 1977.
Leonard weighed in at 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) and 147 pounds (66.7 kg). In November 1979 he defeated the reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion, Wilfred Benítez, only to lose the title in June 1980 in a famous match against Roberto Durán. Five months later Leonard regained the title by defeating Durán, and he successfully defended it thereafter, winning the World Boxing Association (WBA) version of the title with a victory over Thomas Hearns in 1981. Earlier that same year he had won the WBA junior middleweight title with a ninth-round knockout of Ayub Kalule.
Leonard retired from prizefighting in 1982 and then again in 1984 but was enticed to return in April 1987 to face the up-and-coming Marvelous Marvin Hagler, whom he defeated to capture the WBC middleweight title in what was considered one of the greatest professional boxing matches of all time.
Long a popular figure, Leonard’s retirement in 1991 marked his final exit from boxing. He remained associated with the sport as a television commentator.
“Leonard, Sugar Ray” Encyclopædia Britannica
Recipient of Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award from Sri Chinmoy