As nearly every recent president has seen fit to tell us, life is unfair. Even Sugar Ray Leonard has endured some trying times in the year since his retirement from prize fighting.
"My pool's still broke," he says. "And I'm having trouble with my gate. My gate's broke, too."
Poor guy. Makes you want to send him a check.
"Those are some pretty rough ones," Leonard insists with a Cheshire Cat grin.
But in the grand context of things, Leonard's life is just fine, thanks. You only need look at him to tell.
He is sitting in a chair. That's all, just sitting in a chair, waiting for a radio taping at the Mutual broadcasting studios in Arlington to begin.
He wears a tapered tuxedo shirt open to mid-chest and gets away with it.
He is small, his face is elfin and his eyes are as bright and flashing as those of his nationally famous son, Ray Jr.
Leonard is the sort of man who makes those around him vow to diet, or at least exercise more.
He is that handsome, that young, that healthy, wealthy and wise.
With an Olympic gold medal, rapid ascension to the welterweight title and dramatic victories over Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns, Leonard secured himself a place next to Ali, Robinson, Louis and Marciano.
His departure was also memorable. Though the contrived drama and tacky setting was ill-advised, Leonard's retirement from the ring protected him from the possibility of blindness and addled brains.
The one danger he faced was idle time and the banality of retirement.
"Boredom is a danger zone," he says, "because all of a sudden you need something to compare to what you used to do. Obviously you can't compare anything to all the adulation and excitement of boxing.
And so what happens is a guy watches TV and sees these guys fighting and says to himself, 'I could take these guys out, no problem at all.' But I want to be different. I'm content.
"I want to see what's meant for me now. I was meant to be a fighter and I was meant to retire early. Now I want to see what's next."
Leonard may not have lunch-bucket financial incentives to keep him working, but he seems genuinely dedicated to improving as a broadcaster. He is a color commentator for CBS, hosts "Sugar Ray's All-Stars" for Home Box Office, and recently began taping five-minute spots on boxing for Mutual's year-long series "Olympics '84." Bobby Knight, Bob Mathias, Herb Brooks and 10 others are also working on the series.
Leonard is not a natural broadcaster, especially with a prepared script. On a read-through, he has a little trouble with a spot on the history of boxing and wishes out loud that the writer would "write like a person talking." The segment is duller than slate.
But Leonard excels on television. He is spontaneous, knows sports as an insider and communicates that knowledge to the audience of outsiders. As a fighter, Leonard used his head as well as his hands, and on television he is generous with his savvy. Before the Duran-Davey Moore junior middleweight title fight a few weeks ago, Leonard spelled out exactly how Duran would outbox and outsmart Moore for the title; the results of the fight bore out the scenario. Duran beat Moore with body punches just as Leonard said he would.
"Boxing is still with me," Leonard says. "When I'm doing this stuff, I feel the same sensation as when I was in the ring as an amateur. I'm trying to break the stereotypes people have of fighters. What I'm trying to create is something completely different."
He breaks more than one stereotype. Leonard the shrewd businessman clashes with the stories of champions gone to seed and ignoble employment.
The other day Leonard stopped by L'Enfant Plaza Hotel to watch Michael Spinks train for tonight's title fight at the D.C. Armory. He will be at ringside calling the fight for HBO. At the sparring session, Leonard wore a Panama hat and a clinging creamy sport shirt. Cool, but never icy, he smiled at Spinks as he would at a struggling son.
"I'm still in here!" Spinks called out to Leonard.
"I can see that," Leonard said. His chunky gold ring caught the light. All eyes were on him and he was just standing there. Folks were making plans to diet. Husbands watched their wives who were watching Leonard watch Spinks.
Life is unfair. Ray Leonard's pool is still broke.