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Home » Sugar Ray Leonard recalls how he nearly drowned aged 10

Sugar Ray Leonard recalls how he nearly drowned aged 10

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Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard enjoyed a stellar career amateur and professionally.

Leonard is highly respected for his achievements, although a string of medal and titles almost disappeared in a tragic accident.

As a child, the now 62 year-old almost drowned during a horrifying incident.


“My family lived in Seat Pleasant, Md., when I disappeared. A day after a major rain storm, my friends and I were walking along a roaring creek, and I fell in. I was 10 and didn’t know how to swim,” Leonard explained the Wall Street Journal.

“I still remember my friends’ horrified expressions as I was dragged downstream, swallowing a lot of water. But I kept pushing myself to the surface.

“Eventually, I made it to the bank. A short distance away was a large storm drain. I had just made it out of the water.

“I walked through the woods to get home. Near our house, I could see about 50 people crying. My friends had run and told my parents what had happened. They all assumed I had drowned.

“When my mother, Getha, saw me coming across the field, she rushed to pick me up. She was crying and yelling at the same time.”



The now commentator for DAZN revealed he’s still affected by what happened to this day.

“After my close call as a kid, I taught myself to swim—just for emergencies. I have a pool now, but I don’t swim in it. The sound of rushing water at ear level still scares me too much,” added Leonard.

Turning pro in 1977 on the back of Olympic Gold, Leonard soon became one of the most talked-about fighters on the planet.

Winning his first world title at welterweight in 1979, Leonard would eventually reign in four weight classes before retirement in 1997.

Read the full interview with Sugar Ray Leonard by Marc Myers here