Sugar Ray Seales Exclusive Interview: “I Whipped Hagler”

Superb amateur boxer and solid pro “Sugar” Ray Seales fought many great fighters during his amateur and pro careers. A gold medal winner at the 1972 games – the sole U.S boxer to win a gold medal at Munich – Seales fought the fearsome Marvin Hagler no less than three times in the pro ranks; and plenty of people feel Seales deserved the win in two of these bouts.

(Photo: Facebook S.R Seales)

Finishing with a 57-8-3(34) ledger (according to BoxRec), Seales sure has some eventful career to look back on.

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Here the 66 year old kindly speaks on his amazing boxing journey with ESB:

Q: After all you accomplished in boxing, is the 1972 Olympic gold medal win still the finest achievement of yours when you look back today?

Sugar Ray Seales: “I’ll tell you something about that. Six months before I even qualified for the Olympics, my mother booked her flight over to Munich. Booked and paid for. So I HAD to qualify. There were a lot of troubles over there at the time, political, and me, I was just 20 – I turned 20 after my second Olympic fight. I was more worried, more concerned about my mother, about my parents, than anything else at that time.

“I never had any idea that I’d be the only American [boxer] to win a gold medal in 1972. I was one of a number of American boxers who fought, but I was the only one to win a gold. I had to call some U.S senators and other officials to ask if I could go to Munich, and they all told me no, I shouldn’t go. In the Olympic village, I was so concerned, I wouldn’t let my mother and father come in. But I was so determined, I would not leave without my gold medal!”

Q: You had so much skill and ability as a boxer, and you were of course a southpaw boxer. Is it something you are just born with?

S.R.S: “Some of it, yes [you are born with], but you can have that and not know how to use it. I had 430 fights, I lost 19, and I scored 200 knockouts. I almost killed two guys I hit with 10-ounce gloves on. But I wanted to stay with my mother in Tacoma, and I had to work hard. At one point, I had three fights in one month. But I knew it would give me confidence and also build my record. I had one fight and, as long as I wasn’t hurt, I looked forward to the next one.”

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Q: You fought Marvin Hagler three times, and many people feel you deserved the win in the first two of those fights…….

S.R.S: “The second fight, the draw (in November of 1974 in Seattle), I whipped him. I know I won that one. The first fight (in August of 1974, a UD for Marv), we never knew anything about Marvin Hagler, not me or my team. But we were sat in the studio (in Boston) waiting to go out to the ring, and I was freezing, cold solid. Hagler came out and he was dripping in sweat. I feel we were bamboozled. My promotional team at the time, they didn’t know what they were doing. But you can’t watch the first two fights with Hagler today, only the third fight (a one-round win for Hagler) – they let you see me at my worst, not at my best!”

Q: Was Hagler the greatest you ever fought, the hardest puncher?

S.R.S: “ He was tough, no doubt. That third fight, he hit me……but I tell you, Cyclone Hart, he hit me in the ribs (in a 1975 fight, Seales dropping a decision) and I was so hurt I ran for the next few rounds. He hurt me! So I’ve got to give it to Cyclone, he was the hardest [puncher] I faced.”

Q: How good was Alan Minter, who stopped you in London in 1976?

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S.R.S: “We went over there not knowing what would happen. I got knocked down and my corner told me to stay down. It was another world. But yeah, Minter was a great fighter – I put him up there, the fighters he fought. He deserves it.”

Q: The fight where you suffered eye trouble, was it the fight with Jamie Thomas (in August 1980, a points win for Sugar)?

S.R.S: “Yes. I won but things changed after that fight. It was my left eye. He thumbed me and I suffered the vision problems.”

Q: Yet you fought a number of fights after that, and you won!

S.R.S: “I’m all about boxing. I am Mr. Boxing! I couldn’t see, but I had seen all I needed to see in boxing. I never worried about it. They said I lied during the eye charts, but the charts are different in every state. I passed the tests.”

Q: How is your eyesight now?

S.R.S: “I’ve had eight surgeries on my eyes, and today I see better than ever. I can finally see my wife properly after 14 years!”

Q: You are a fine boxing trainer and you wish to coach the 2020 US Olympic team?

S.R.S: “I’m typing a letter right now. I’m the man to do it. Each and every person I’ve spoken to about it, they all say it’s a great idea. I’ve trained young fighters, autistic people, for years now. I live to give. I’m here to share what I’ve got.”