It was killing me inside: Sugar Ray Leonard on hiding childhood sexual abuse

Washington, June 10: Retired professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard has revealed that he is glad he opened up about his childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his coach, as hiding it was killing him on the inside.

In his shocking memoir, 'The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring', Leonard, 55, revealed for the first time how he was sexually abused by a "prominent Olympic boxing coach" when he was 15-years-old.

In an interview with CNN news, Leonard, 55, explained how much the confession has helped him come to terms with the abuse.

"I had to get that out because it was killing me inside, I was dying inside. I told no one. I kept this to myself for 30 something years," Radar Online quoted Leonard as saying.

"I said it to my first wife Juanita but I said it under the influences of alcohol, because a guy doesn't talk about those things, especially me as a fighter. I could have kicked their (his abuser's) butt but I didn't," he said.

According to the New York Times, the champ said the incident took place after the coach (who he did not name) took him, and another teen boxer, to a match in New York in 1971.

Leonard said the man had him take a bath with the boy and watched from afar, and they knew "something a bit inappropriate" was happening.

The five-time world champion, who appeared on Dancing with the Stars, said another incident took place years later in a car with the same man.

"Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life. I didn't scream. I didn't look at him. I just opened the door and ran," he revealed.

The boxer said that he is thankful that the truth is finally out and credits his half-decade of sobriety with allowing him to deal with the demons.

"My life is not a sad story, I had a wonderful career, I had wealth, I had fame. I had obstacles that I had to overcome and this book was so cathartic and therapeutic that it released things that I had on my chest so long," he said.

"I am so glad that I am releasing this, as painful as it is, it's OK...I learned to surrender though my program. I'll be sober five years in July and that is my biggest accomplishment," he added.

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