Sugar Ray Leonard Coming to Elkhart

August 06, 2013

Sugar Ray Leonard is coming to Elkhart, but getting inside to see him might prove as difficult for some as getting out of the ring unscathed proved to be against him during his fighting days.

The Hall of Fame boxer will appear Thursday, Aug. 15, at The Lerner Theatre for a VIP-style dinner event to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart.

General-audience tickets are not being sold, according to Ryon Wheeler, associate executive director of the Elkhart club, but some sponsorship opportunities do remain.

Sponsorships range in cost from $500 for having an individual’s or company’s name placed on a silent auction item to $5,000 for a table of eight that includes other perks. Other levels of sponsorship include $1,000 for two tickets and a name placed on a silent auction item and $3,000 for a table of eight and an event ad.

Wheeler said Tuesday, Aug. 6, that the club is hoping to “raise in excess of $100,000” through the event.

“It’s our signature event of the year for the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart as we try to sustain and raise our mission to assist children through our programs,” Wheeler said.

Last year’s signature event was Bob Knight’s visit in October that included VIP-style opportunities and a general-audience presentation.

Wheeler estimates that about 250 individuals will be in attendance at the Leonard event.

While nothing’s been finalized, according to Wheeler, Leonard might also be able to arrive a day early to visit local schools.

The Aug. 15 agenda, titled “15 Rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard,” will include a 6 p.m. reception and silent auction and a 6:30 dinner, followed by Elkhart Community Schools superintendent Robert Haworth speaking, and then Leonard’s presentation.

“Sugar Ray’s been asked to talk about the importance of the Boys & Girls Club, because he is a former club kid,” Wheeler pointed out.

Some of the club children will be able to attend as greeters, but will not be in the Crystal Ballroom for the event due to alcohol being served.

Leonard, 57, is credited with being the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses and the second, just three days behind Thomas Hearns, to win titles in five weight classes.

Born in North Carolina and raised in and near Washington, D.C., the colorful, popular and savvy Leonard won an Olympic gold medal in 1976 before going on to a pro career that featured a 36-3-1 record with 27 wins to start.

He initially retired in 1982 following surgery for a detached retina, but then made several comebacks over the next 15 years.

Leonard won a comeback fight in 1984, then in 1987 returned again to stun Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the middleweight crown. He also won a multi-division title bout in 1988, but his final two fights, in 1991 and 1997, ended in losses to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho, respectively.

In 2007, Leonard was ranked No. 12 among ESPN’s 50 greatest boxers of all-time. His 40 pro bouts are decidedly the fewest of anyone on that list’s top 25.