Sugar Ray Leonard: How to roll with the punches to achieve success

When it comes to achieving goals and beating the odds, hard work, determination and risk taking are key.

At the Becker's ASC Review 26th Annual Meeting in Chicago, boxing legend and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard spoke about his career in boxing, and the steps he took to become a world champion.

"Your dreams are your GPS toward success and drives your determination," Mr. Leonard said. "Determination is what turns every single one of us into winners. No one is born a world champion, just like no one is born a brain surgeon."

When Mr. Leonard was training to take on undisputed middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler, he put in what he calls the hard "roadwork," or putting in extra work to get the results that will help you reach your goals.

"For me, it was getting up for a run at 5 a.m. For you all, it could be getting to work an hour early, or leaving two hours later," he said, addressing the audience. "The more you do the roadwork, the easier it will be to do. Your competition is not making those sacrifices."

Risk also plays a role in achieving success, Mr. Leonard said. When Mr. Leonard was 32 years old, which was considered "old" for a boxer, he took on Don Lalonde, a heavyweight boxer who was bigger than Leonard. Even though Leonard was considered to be at the end of his prime, he beat Mr. Lalonde, and achieved his goal of holding onto his super middleweight champion title.

"For some, victory is achieving what you set out to do," he said. "It's just a matter of knowing that you did your best."

Mr. Leonard said victory can be defined in many ways beyond boxing — it can be receiving promotions, being financially stable or family.

"If I could leave you with one last piece of advice, it would be to keep your guards up," he said.

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