Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard survives confinement with remote meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous

Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard He was used to spending months in isolation preparing for fights, but the retired world champion has said one of the ways he remains sane through coronavirus blocking is assisting Alcoholics Anonymous online meetings.

Leonard, who regularly spent months away from the crowds while training to win six world titles at five pesos between 1979 and 1989, has attended AA meetings for nearly 15 years.

I can't go to the meetings right now, but I'm at Zoom, I have it at Zoom and I join AA meetings that (have) people from the UK, Puerto Rico, around the world and we're seeing this, as I am doing with you, because the technology is so amazing, the 63-year-old man told Reuters from his California home.

I identify with that and I love it. You can go anywhere. It takes you where the others are. It unites us.

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Leonard, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and struggled with what he called the demons within him, said he was suspicious of the online version of AA, but understood the assistance they offer.

It was scary because, as they asked me, I was scared, not scared, well, yes, I was scared, he said. I was scared to go to the camera and say, 'Hi guys, this is Sugar Ray.' I say Ray ... and I am an alcoholic. That was difficult, but I'm improving now by talking about these things that are so stigmatized.

These are new people, but they are the demons that are messing with me, said the man remembered for his epic fights with Roberto Durán, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler - Known as the Fabulous Four.

"They’re saying, 'Don’t reveal yourself, Don’t reveal yourself'. And this guy is saying 'Ray, it’s OK, it’s OK, you’re one and the same, you guys are alcoholics'."

Leonard, who now runs a foundation to fight Type 1 and 2 Diabetes , still works out and told fans a great way to beat the isolation blues is to keep active, whether it’s punching a heavy bag or simply shadow boxing for a few seconds in your kitchen.

Leonard, who was famous for his grace and speed in the ring, was good humoured about being recognised in the online gatherings, even if some of the younger participants know him more for his smooth moves outside the ring than inside.

"(People say) 'You’re that guy right' and I say, 'Yeah, but what guy?' And he says, 'The guy on Dancing with the Stars'."