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Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard: What separates a champion from a contender

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard gave a keynote presentation at the Becker's ASC 23rd Annual Meeting — The Business and Operations of ASCs on Oct. 28, 2016. He spoke about his biggest successes and failures in the ring and the lessons that inspired him to move forward.

Mr. Leonard is a sought-after motivational speaker, delivering his POWER message — prepare, overcome, win every round. He stressed the importance of dreaming big and developing a plan to make those dreams come true. "Your dreams are your window to the future and your goals are your roadmap to get there," he said. "It's what allows you to see the light at the end of the tunnel; it gives you determination."

Peppered throughout his presentation, Mr. Leonard showed clips of his matches and described what it felt like to go round after round with some of the best fighters in world. Mr. Leonard is an Olympic champion and defeated boxers such as Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Wilfred Benetiz. He had a 20-year professional boxing career and won several world titles, becoming the first boxer to win world titles in five different weight classes.

But it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he'd be a champion; he put in the work.

"Nobody is born a world champion, just like nobody is born a brain surgeon," Mr. Leonard said. "It's this type of determination that builds tremendous confidence, knowing more than likely your competitors aren't making the same sacrifices you are. Determination gives you the mental edge."

He stressed a few key points to strategize for the next fight:

• Know your competition's strengths and weaknesses
• Exercise your body and mind, especially when returning from defeats
• Maintain your self esteem
• Keep your composure
• Take risks and don't fear failure
• Build a reservoir of strength for the moments when you need it most

"We all have a reservoir of strength, but what separates us is the ability to access it," said Mr. Leonard. "That's what separates the champion from the contender; the winner from the loser."

Mr. Leonard ended his career in boxing with 36 wins and three losses. The first loss he incurred, from Mr. Duran, taught him a lesson about staying focused and maintaining control. He responded to the loss by continued training and challenging Mr. Duran to a re-match, which he won.

"You have to ask yourself when you lose how you respond to that setback; do you get back up and fight? Your past doesn't have to equal your future unless you want it to," he said.

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