SI Vault
William Nack
April 20, 1987
Sugar Ray Leonard couldn't help exulting over his upset of Marvelous Marvin Hagler
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April 20, 1987

'everything I Did Worked'

Sugar Ray Leonard couldn't help exulting over his upset of Marvelous Marvin Hagler

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I went against history, and now they'll have to rewrite the books. They talked about logic, that the fight was not supposed to be. Someone said before the fight, "Two things will not happen this year: Oliver North will not be back in the White House, and Sugar Ray Leonard will not beat Marvin Hagler."

I think they better check the White House.

They were ensconced at a back table in Jameson's Restaurant in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md., early on Friday afternoon. The two men were swapping tales from that twilight zone that falls somewhere between nightmare and dream. Just four days earlier, Sugar Ray Leonard had beaten Marvelous Marvin Hagler to pull off the most extraordinary comeback in recent sports history. Mike Trainer, Leonard's attorney, financial adviser and close friend since the fighter turned pro 10 years ago, recalled how he had awakened in his Maryland home on Wednesday morning, a couple of days after the fight, thinking he was still at Caesars Palace.

"I thought, Was the fight postponed, or what?" Trainer recounted to Leonard at Jameson's. "Did this fight really happen yet?" Trainer then recalled that he had looked over and had seen his wife, Jill, who had traveled to Las Vegas with him, asleep. "I thought, Am I still at Caesars?" Trainer said. After he had sat in bed, befuddled for a moment, Trainer spotted the family cat, Gigi, and the sight of that familiar animal jogged him back to Maryland and the real world. "I said, 'It's over,' " Trainer recalled. " 'We're home.' "

Leonard looked at Trainer with a wondering expression. "Is that right?" he said. Leonard shook his head. That same Wednesday morning Leonard had been walking through his father-in-law's suburban Washington home when he had suddenly lapsed into his own trancelike world. "I didn't feel nothing," Leonard said, "and I didn't hear nothing." He had been sore after the fight—his sides, his neck, his biceps, even the back of his head—but when he had felt himself that morning, the aches were nonexistent.

Like Trainer, momentarily disoriented, Leonard had begun to wonder whether the fight had really happened. He had gone to a mirror to check his face. It was unmarked. Seeing his old friend Joe Broddie, who was an overnight guest in the house, Leonard asked him, earnestly, "Is the fight over?"

"Yeah, it's over, Ray," Broddie said. "It's all over." The next night, Broddie says, he found the fighter at 10 o'clock in the driveway of Leonard's Potomac, Md., home. He was shadowboxing his dog, a chow chow named Caesar.

"Ray, you O.K.?" Broddie asked.

Leonard was just fine, parachuting slowly down from the heights he had attained, but still so restlessly hyper that on Friday he rolled out of bed at 6 a.m. and told his wife, Juanita, that he was going running. "Lay your butt down!" she said to him.

What Leonard had passed through was so physically and emotionally draining that it left him groping to fathom what he had done. What he had done, of course, was emerge out of a virtual five-year retirement and lift the title from Hagler, a man who had held it for nearly seven years, since Sept. 27, 1980, and through 12 defenses, a man regarded as one of the finest middleweight champions of all time.

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