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31 Jul 1976
Montreal 1976

Classy Leonard heads for the stars in Montreal - Boxing

Sugar Ray Leonard’s stellar professional boxing career was given the ideal platform in the boxing tournament at Montreal 1976.

With Americans Leon and Michael Spinks, the Cuban giant Teofilo Stevenson and Leonard himself all coming away with gold medals, it could be argued that Montreal witnessed the greatest boxing competition in the history of the Olympic Games.

Leonard was arguably the most stylish and certainly went on to make the biggest impact on the boxing annals, winning world titles in five weight divisions and earning over USD100 million in the ring.

Hailing from North Carolina but raised in Maryland, Leonard took up boxing at a local club at the age of 13 and was immediately marked out as a prodigious talent.

After missing out on qualification for the 1972  Games when he was just 17,  he went on to win a clutch of national and Golden Gloves titles on the US amateur circuit.

He had no problems making the US team for the 1976 Games, and as the competition at Montreal’s Maurice Richard Arena progressed his performances grew in confidence and style .

He marched through the early rounds with a succession of 5-0 points victories, in the days before headguards and the ‘punches-landed’ scoring system were introduced to the Games.

In his semi-final he notched another 5-0 win, over Poland’s Kazimierz Szczerba, who had previously inflicted one of Leonard’s rare defeats at  amateur level.

He then facest his toughest test in the final, in the form of formidable Andres Aldama.

The chiseled Cuban had advanced through the other half of the draw with a series of devastating knockouts, including a first round defeat of his Bulgarian opponent in  their semi-final.

By the time of the final, Leonard’s swift footwork and astonishingly fast hands had become the talk of the Games, and he didn’t disappoint.

He made the previously brutal Aldama look average, his hands moving in a blur as he dismantled the Cuban’s challenge.

The judges gave him another 5-0 winning margin and the gold medal was his, underlining a hugely successful boxing tournament for the USA, which claimed almost half of the titles on offer.

Four years later at the same venue, Leonard returned to the same venue for one of the great boxing bouts of all time, losing the so-called “Brawl in Montreal” to Panama’s “Hands of Stone” Roberto Duran.

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