Boxing Legend Sugar Ray Leonard: 'We Will Knock Out Diabetes

Photo Credit: Invision/AP/Shutterstock
May 21, 2019

By Brian Henry

The Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation's "Big Fighters, Big Cause" charity boxing night is celebrating its 10th anniversary at the Beverly Hilton tomorrow night. Thanks to celebrities like Magic Johnson, Usher, and Cindy Crawford, the foundation has raised over $3 million for diabetes research, care, and awareness over the last decade.

Sugar Ray Leonard spoke to Cheddar about forming the foundation a decade ago.

"It was because my father had Type 2 diabetes, and I noticed that a couple of my friends, either they or their kids were diabetic. It became of interest to me because my father was not doing well. My wife and I put it together, the foundation together," the boxing legend said.

Leonard told Cheddar that ultimately the work they do comes down to "conversations with good people."

"[We talk] with people who are dealing with this enemy, this opponent, diabetes. It is just so incredible, and I feel so humble doing what I'm doing. Just trying to make a difference, trying to raise a difference. We will knock out diabetes."

"To use my celebrity, my friends, my contacts, to reciprocate. I always felt that I had a blessed life because of my career. I've been fighting for over 40 years and to come out pretty much unscathed, I wanted to give back."

And after 40 years in the fight scene, the former champ is also looking to the future of the sport that gave him so much.

Serving as part of the ringside team at DAZN, a live, on-demand streaming sports service, Leonard told Cheddar that DAZN is the 'perfect platform' for the sport to gain more mainstream recognition.

"To look back on my career and Muhammed Ali's career, that was network television. That doesn't really exist anymore. DAZN gives that boxing fans an opportunity to watch the fight at any time," he said about the modern viewing landscape.

Leonard, who has held world championships in five weight divisions and earned a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics, is enjoying the new gig.

"I absolutely love it. Its deja vu. Sometimes it's like 'maybe I could still do it.' (laughs) But I'm OK now, I just turned 63, May 17th, and I'm not even embarrassed or afraid to talk about my age because to me, age is just a number."

For full interview click here.