Sugar Ray Leonard won plenty of titles when he ruled boxing.
Today the former five-time world champion is the owner of a few new ones.
“I’m a parent, part-time golfer, husband,” Leonard said. “Those are my titles now.”
Leonard made his debut in the 52nd annual Bob Hope Classic this week, displaying his golf game on four famous golf courses in the city of La Quinta near Palm Springs, CA.
Leonard carried boxing on his shoulders throughout the 1980’s, his victories – even his losses – are considered classic moments in the history of the sweet science.
Leonard, however, has moved on. He no longer allows his fists to call the shots. The Ray Leonard of today is a devoted family man, a local politician, a widely successful motivational speaker, a health and wellness crusader and a soon-to-be novelist.
“I’ve had some good times and some bad times but I say “look at me now,” Leonard said. “I’m in a good place right now.”
Leonard, who met and married his wife Bernadette back in 1993, has been living in the Southern California affluent residential community of Pacific Palisades ever since.
Earlier this month Leonard, 54, was named the 27th Honorary Mayor of Pacific Palisades. He will assume that mantle in June.
“I will smile and make sure there are no more parking tickets,” Leonard joked.
Leonard will replace actor Gavin MacLeod, who has served as honorary mayor for five years.
“There are some real prominent people who have been honorary mayor,” Leonard said. ”It’s a real honor.”
Leonard, however, hasn’t strayed too far away from boxing. He has a lot to say when it comes to the much anticipated bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Who doesn’t want to see that matchup,” Leonard said. “They are the only guys out there.”
The sport, Leonard said, has plenty of fighters. But it only has two players.
“There are other guys who can fight and are good champions,” Leonard said. “But name wise, they are the players. They have to fight. They should fight.”
There is no doubt both fighters will make millions to step into the ring with each other. But this is the kind of fight that goes beyond the purses.
“This is for bragging rights,”Leonard said. “This is a matchup that makes your palms sweat.”
Leonard said he initially favored Mayweather. Then he leaned toward Pacquiao.
Today, Leonard said it’s anyone’s guess.
“At first I said Mayweather because he had never been hurt. Then he got hurt by Shane Mosley,” Leonard said. “Then I said Pacquiao because he had never been hurt. Then he got hurt by Margarito to the body. Both have been resilient enough to come back. It’s a hard fight to pick.”
What has Leonard excited, however, is the June 2011 release of his official autobiography “The Big Fight.”
“It’s my life story,” Leonard said. “It’s my first official book. There have been others but they were all unauthorized.”
Leonard said fans should be prepared for some gritty details.
“This is the first time I really opened up and been transparent,” Leonard said. “I have had some bad times in my life. I hope it will be more inspirational than shocking.”
Leonard has spent the last few years managing his time as a very successful motivational speaker (he has delivered POWER: Prepare, Overcome and Win Every Round to an international audience) and as an advocate for juvenile diabetes research through his Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation.
In 2009 Leonard, along with Mary Tyler Moore and Nick Jonas, testified in front of congress in an effort to raise awareness for their cause.
“I’ve seen friends and I’ve seen kids who struggle with this disease,” Leonard said. “It’s a brutal disease. “
Leonard’s struggle with retirement is well documented. But he seems to have come to grips with his new life.
That change in his life began with his move out to the West Coast in the early 1990’s, which is the time he met and married Bernadette. The two have two children: Daniel and Camille.
“I came out here, met my wife Bernadette, and started my life over again,” Leonard said. “It’s a wonderful time for me.”
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