We’ve probably never thought of world title boxer Sugar Ray Leonard as a victim of child sexual abuse. But yesterday, Sugar Ray spoke at the inaugural Child Sexual Abuse Conference hosted by Penn State wherein he recounted his experiences of being abused as a child by two men.
It’s Leonard’s hope that by sharing his story, others can draw from his experience and be more willing to speak out and come forward.
MSN News reported that Leonard first came forward last year in a memoir when he shared being sexually abused as an amateur boxer by one of his coaches. Although Sugar Ray said he’s been sober now for the last six years, that initial experience led him down a path into drugs and alcohol.
In his June, 2011 autobiography “The Big Fight: My Life in and out of the Ring,” Sugar Ray revealed that as a young boxer he was the victim of sexual abuse from an Olympic trainer.
Now retired from the world of boxing, Sugar Ray said he cried for the victims of Jerry Sandusky when he first heard of the abuse of all those children at the hands of the former Penn State assistant football coach.
“What I had heard about Penn State — I cried for those victims,”
“Because I knew what they’d dealt with, what they lived with … It’s such an awful thing that eats away at you, that makes you feel that you’re to blame.”
Sharing his story is still difficult for the former boxing champ as he got choked up several times during his speech yesterday.
Sugar Ray didn’t plan on reaching out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky, but when asked what advice he would give, said that it would be to “surrender,” meaning:
“Yes it did happen, but now deal with it. Speak up, speak out. Because if it happened to you, you can prevent it from happening to somebody else.”
Following the recent Penn State scandal, the university now hopes to become a front runner in the research, treatment and prevention of child sex abuse.
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