Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard Saturday acknowledged he used cocaine for about three years in the early 1980s and abused alcohol because of a career-threatening eye injury and a failing marriage.
Leonard, a 1976 Olympic boxing champion and winner of five professional titles, confirmed much of his former wife Juanita's testimony during their divorce proceedings last summer. His admissions came after the Los Angeles Times reported portions of Juanita Leonard's testimony."I'm not here to defend myself . . . to rationalize or justify what happened five, six years ago," a misty-eyed Leonard said during a hastily called news conference. "I resorted to drugs and alcohol. Occasionally, I did cocaine, and occasionally, I did drink heavy. What I did was wrong, it was childish, it was stupid.
"I stand here ashamed, hurt," said Leonard, who often paused and reflected between words. "I stand here and think about my parents, my ex-wife, kids and the fans who stood behind me not knowing what I went through for three years. All I can do is say I'm sorry and that's not enough."
Leonard, 34, and his wife reached an out-of-court settlement in Montgomery County, Md., last December, ending their 10-year marriage.
Juanita Leonard also testified that her ex-husband physcically abused her and he threatened to kill himself with a gun while he was drunk.
"He said he would kill himself," she testified. "He tried ingesting a lot of alcohol and pills to kill himself."
Juanita Leonard testified the last time she knew her husband used drugs was in 1987, but Leonard said he stopped in early 1986 without entering a treatment center or seeking any outside support.