Sugar Ray Leonard: Dishing the dirt — and the punches
For “Real Steel,” boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard was tasked with both choreographing big robot-on-robot boxing matches and training Hugh Jackman to play a convincing trainer and former boxer. But we at Metro thought he could use a real challenge: critiquing my boxing abilities. Leonard was a great sport about it. As for me? Well…
Sugar Ray Leonard: What’s your best punch?
Ned Ehrbar: Um …
SRL: Show me your guard. [Ned stands up, puts up his fists.] You’re a southpaw?
NE: No, I’m right-handed. [Ned switches position.]
SRL: Stand your regular way. OK, OK. Now jab. [Ned punches.] No, jab. [Ned punches again.] That’s your right hand. You’re supposed to jab with your left.
NE: Oh, right. [Ned punches with his left hand. Sugar Ray laughs.]
SRL: When I say jab, I don’t want you to do this [punches slowly]. If you did that to me, I’d see it coming a mile away. I had time to go to the bathroom before that punch lands. Speed is relaxing. Speed is like … [Sugar Ray hits Ned in the gut three times]. That’s the key. It’s having the ability to relax and just let your hands go. I mean, naturally you’re a big, strong guy …
NE: Well, I’m big.
SRL: Right. [Laughs] Power comes from speed, you know what I mean? But you? You’re OK. But don’t overthink it. It’s like, visualize sneaking up on someone. That’s the movement. But then you have to keep working at it until it becomes natural. That’s where the power comes in. I don’t want to overwork you and tell you too much, but the key is balance and relaxing. You’ve got to loosen up. With me, I had the ability to lower my heart rate when I was in the ring. I could calm down enough so that I would be better than you. Because it’s scarier than s— in that ring, I don’t care who you are or how confident you are. But there is also a part of us that is able to kind of lower our heart rate because we’re that confident. It may be delusional, but that delusion balances things out.