The fight for the gold also was on a Friday, Sugar Ray Leonard remembered three days before his golden fight against Roberto Duran.
"That's what comes back the quickest about returning here," he was saying. "The Olympic championship was on a Friday night, the weather here still is beautiful and so is the city. So here we go again."
The first time he thought more about $5 than $5 million. The first time was going to be his last time in the ring. Once he grabbed the gold medal he would abuse those special hands no more. Of all the dreams in that small apartment in the Olympic Village during the '76 Games, Leonard's were the ones that did include pro glory.
"Most of us were in one apartment, in little bunks," he said. "Four or five were in the living room. Except me. I was captain. I kept a bedroom. There were two bunks in it -- and sometimes Howard Davis would use one and other times Louis Curtis would use it.
"It was like a little apartment, awful crowded. But we kinda dug each other, got along great, even in those small quarters."
Those small quarters, the apartments with three bedrooms and a living area that undoubtedly pulsated from the energy of Leonard, the Spinks brothers, Davis, Leo Randolph and the nongold miners on that U.S. team, now rent for up to $861 per month.
Leonard could walk right in and visit the occupant now.The security no longer is Olympian. The guards with guns are gone. So is the fence that surrounded the two-building village four years ago. Gone also are the unique mix of people.
Out on the lawn, heads would turn as two African men walked by, hand in hand. Inside, a Swede might ask an American how to dial a telephone, a Korean would try to barter a board filled with tiny swords. The superpatriotic black heavyweight would stroll along the walkway with a jacket to which was stitched: "Big John Tate -- I love America."
Leonard would pass Brazilians singing in a cafe-like setting behind the living quarters and watch, suddenly startled, as a bus carrying several young women gymnasts passed. His head snapped because next to these pixie-like athletes were young men with loaded rifles.
But the fight for the gold in '76 seemed as consuming as the fight with Roberto Duran in '80. Leonard has outgrown both the Maurice Richard Arena, where he won five of his six Olympic bouts, and the Forum, where he became champion of the 63.5-kilogram (light-welterweight) division.
The battle with Duran will take place a few hundred yards from the Richard Arena, in the Olympic Stadium. And the tens of thousands who celebrated Juantorena, Jenner and the still grossly neglected Edwin Moses in '76 will focus on a small, appealing pre-Olympic star who has risen as high and as quickly as any in sport.
Leonard won nearly unanimous decisions throughout the Olympics, but his style was not unanimously appreciated here. Much of the crowd thought he should have shown more substance and less style against Britian's Clinton McKenzie.
"I was disappointed, but not really surprised," Leonard said. Some of the people who boo and criticize you don't know what's going on in the ring. They don't understand what international boxing is all about."
The bout with the Soviet, Valery Limasov, in the second round had figured to be his toughest. And he remembered: "What made the fight was when I hit him with a good right and smiled -- and he smiled right back. That made me think a little." The first fight, against a Swede, and the last, against Cuban Andres Aldama, proved more rugged, although Leonard never won by less than a 5-0 decision.
Still, the most pleasant surprise came outside the ring.
"On a Tuesday," he said. "I kept calling home and no one answered. I was geting a little frightened. It turns out my grandmother had passed away and no one wanted to upset me. So what they all did was come up here.
"They came in a camper that holds eight or nine comfortably. There must have been 19 or 20 in that thing. And I rode back with them."
As a celebrity in '80, Leonard is enjoying a few of the Montreal sites he missed as a ring-riveted amateur four years ago. A television interview with Howard Cosell in Old Montreal was one of the few times he ventured much beyond the village in '76.
Leonard laughs when reminded of a quote after he beat McKenzie in the third round and began to become a national figure in the U.S.: "All I want is that gold. Boxing as an amateur is in here." He pointed to his heart. "Pro is not."
If it is not in his heart this Friday night, Roberto Duran will let him know. Before that becomes evident, however, Leonard considered one more irony: he is amassing a fortune made possible largely by the Olympics a few weeks before the Moscow Olympics, denied to the Sugar Rays of '80.
"I can't really put myself in their position," he said. "But being young, it must be pretty hard to accept (this boycott). We've always tried to accommodate the welfare of the athlete, but the welfare of the country comes first. I have to go along with the president."