“Sugar” Ray Seales, a product of the Tacoma Boxing Club, was the only American boxer to win a gold medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. As an amateur under coach Joe Clough he amassed a record of 338-12. His professional record was 57-8-3.
Seales was born in the Virgin Islands on Sept. 4, 1952 where his father was stationed in the U.S. Army. The family moved to Tacoma, WA in 1965 and Seales graduated from Stadium High School in 1971.
At six feet tall, Seales had a decided reach advantage over many of his opponents in the Light Welter¬weight Division. This helped him become the 1971 National AAU Champion in that class, North American Amateur Champion, West Coast Golden Gloves Champion and 1972 National Golden Gloves 139-pound champion before turning pro. His earlier winning bouts would have qualified him for the 1968 Olympics, but as a 16 year old, he was ineligible to compete.
A Middleweight contender in the 1970s and early1980s, Seales held U. S. and North American titles during his career. Sugar Ray fought Marvin Hagler three times with the best result a draw in their second bout. He suffered a retinal tear in a 1980 fight, and was forced to retire after being declared legally blind.
After his boxing career, the charismatic Seales worked with autistic students at Lincoln High School in Tacoma for 17 years. In 2007, he moved to Indianapolis where he coached boxing and was inducted into Indiana Boxing Hall of Fame. An affable person who liked to carry his gold medal in his pocket and allow people to hold it, Sugar Ray told one reporter, “It’s my American Express Card – I don’t leave home without it.”