Boxer Leonard used cocaine, ex-wife says in documents

March 30, 1991|By Earl Gustkey | Earl Gustkey,Los Angeles Times

Sugar Ray Leonard, who appeared in nationally televised anti-drug public service announcements in 1989, has used cocaine himself, according to his ex-wife, Juanita Leonard.

According to Maryland court records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Leonard's wife made the charges during divorce proceedings last summer, before the two agreed on an out-of-court settlement.

The court documents also show that Mr. Leonard did not deny using drugs during his marriage and that he confirmed his wife's assertion that he abused her physically because of alcohol and drug abuse.

Mr. Leonard did not name cocaine as a drug he used. But in one question-and-answer session, he admitted to drug and alcohol use and partially attributed physical abuse of his wife to his alcohol use.

Question (by an attorney to Mr. Leonard, under oath): Did you ever strike your wife at any time during the marriage with any part of your body? I don't mean your fists necessarily -- a shove, or a grab, or pushing?

Mr. Leonard: Yes.

Q: What incidents do you recall where there was some altercation between you and her? And describe what they were.

A: We've had a few scuffles, and pushing and shoving.

Q: Did you ever hit her on the head, strike her where the ring on your finger caused a cut?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you ever strike her during those scuffles?

A: Yes.

Q: Would you say you've struck her more times than she has struck you?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you ever strike her after you had been drinking?

A: Yes. Those were the only times.

Q: Would you admit you came home sometimes after you had done some drugs?

A: Yes.

Q: And did that cause some altercations and problems between youand your wife, the fact that you drank or did some drugs?

A: No.

Q: What do you believe caused the altercations?

A: There was a period in my life when my career had ended temporarily and I was going through a state of limbo, and I wasn't particularly happy with my marital situation.

Mr. Leonard's attorney and manager, Washington attorney Mike Trainer, said Mr. Leonard was unavailable yesterday for comment.

When advised of the contents of this story, Mr. Trainer said: "If you are writing that during the promotional period for that fight [against Thomas Hearns in June 1989] that he [Mr. Leonard] was using drugs,that is totally inaccurate."

Mr. Leonard, the former welterweight and middleweight world champion who retired in February, appeared in televised public service announcements in May and June of 1989 with Mr.Hearns.

The Leonard-Hearns anti-drug announcements were tied to the promotion of their June 12, 1989, fight in Las Vegas. In the spots, both fighters urged young people to avoid illegal drugs.

Yesterday, when told of this story, Mr. Hearns said that if Mrs. Leonard's charges were true, Mr. Leonard "owes the public an apology."

"If this is true, then I'm embarrassed that we did it [the public service spots] together," he said.

"It was supposed to be, you know, two good citizens, role models for kids. It's pretty bad; I'm very disappointed" in Mr. Leonard.

Mr. Leonard's wife, who accepted a multimillion-dollar divorce settlement, admitted to "occasional" cocaine use herself during their stormy, 10-year marriage, court records show.

In response to a question of her own drug use, she responded, under oath: "marijuana, and I did cocaine on a couple of occasions."

In statements also under oath, she said Mr. Leonard's alcohol and cocaine use was responsible for his alleged physical abuse of her.

In one sworn statement, she described one abuse incident:

"Over a two-year period he would come home intoxicated, high. He would pull me out of bed. He'd throw me around. He at one point would harass me physically and mentally in front of the children. He cut me across my head one time with a ring [when he hit me]."

Mrs. Leonard also said during a sworn statement, again under oath:

Question: What kind of drugs was he using?

Mrs. Leonard: Cocaine.

She also said her husband threatened to kill himself at one point during their marriage, then seemed to contradict herself:

Question: When did you learn he [Mr. Leonard] was using it [cocaine]?

Mrs. Leonard: In 1986.

Q: Has he ever done anything to try and harm himself while he's been drunk?

A: Yes. He's pulled out the gun a couple of times. He said he would kill himself. You know, he tried ingesting a lot of alcohol and pills to kill himself.

Q: Did he ever try to commit suicide, to your knowledge?

A: Not as I know of.

At one point, she said her husband one night in 1987 threatened to burn down their Maryland house as she was leaving him with their two children.

In response to a question about physical abuse by Mr. Leonard, she said: "[calling] me names and abusing me physically. It got to the point where he was getting physical. He threw lamps. He knocked mirrors off the wall. I was very frightened.

"I went up[stairs] and woke up the children . . . got them out of the room that they were sleeping in. . . ."

Q: All of the children?

A: All of the children, to get them up so we could leave the house.

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