Sugar Ray Leooard, one of the golden boys of the 1976 Games in Montreal, severed his connection with the 1988 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team Friday as the discord surrounding the team continued
Leonard, who won three pro titles, is known to be pondering another comeback, but his resignation as a special adviser was not tied to that.His action came on the eve of the box-offs to select the 12 Olympic team members.
It also followed by a day after the suspension of Coach Ken Adams was upheld; he was replaced as head coach by Tom Coulter, and three boxers who tested positive for drugs were disqualified.
Leonard said he felt Army coach Hank Johnson should have replaced Adams, also of the Army, who was accused of assaulting a USA-Amateur Boxing Federation staffer May 12 at Colorado Springs. Johnson coaches five of the Olympic Trials champions.
"It is a very sad situation when you have a coach, who allegedly urinated in public, as the No. 1 man," Leonard said. "That was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Coulter, 57, of Syracuse, was accused of urinating in public during a two-week trip with a boxing team to the Soviet Union in March. He denied the charge and expressed surprise at Leonard's comments.
Commenting on the bickering, Coulter said, "I'm really glad it's happening now prior to the team being selected."
"This is something I have pondered for a while now," a misty-eyed Leonard said of his resignation at a news conference at which he accepted no questions.
"It shouldn't be a shock to the people who appointed me to be an adviser," said the former Olympic champion who went on to win three professional titles. "My advice has been to a sound-proof wall.
"This is my first love - amateur boxing - but my expertise was never used."
Leonard also was upset by allegations that he was using or would use his position to recruit boxers for his professional stable. He scoffed at the charges.
He also was annoyed by criticism of the sale of his T-shirts at the Olympic Boxing Trials last week at Concord, Calif.
"We have lost a very important person in the sport of amateur boxing," sai Col. Don Hull, president of the USA-ABF. "From the beginning people have picked on him and harped at him."
"I'm not totally frustrated," Leonard said. "I'm educated. This is a different era from my era, which was the 1970s when it was an honor to make the team."
The bickering and backbiting have overshadowed the boxers, several of whom grumbled about the promotion of Coulter to head coach.
Larry Ramirez, 51, of Fontana, Calif., has moved from No. 2 assistant to No. 1 assistant. A No. 2 man will be selected, and Johnson is one of the candidates.
"We need to have a military coach," said super heavyweight Robert Salters, who is stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C. "I'm crossing my fingers they name of Hank Johnson."
Of the turmoil, 25-year-old Salters said: "We're going to have to jell together and deal with it. The older guys are going to have to sit down and have a talk with the younger guys. I think we can do that."