Sugar Ray Leonard to become ‘main event’ on AV Board of Trade ‘Business Outlook Conference’ card

LANCASTER – Boxing Legend Sugar Ray Leonard will replace NBA Basketball Star Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the keynoter for the Business Outlook Conference because Johnson cancelled due to the NBA rescheduling the all star game and his contractual obligations with ESPN.

The Antelope Valley Board of Trade’s 40th annual conference is slated for 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Poppy Pavilion at the AV Fairgrounds.

“Leonard is one of the legendary sports icons of the 20th century whose very name epitomizes boxing and conjures the image of a champion. He recently made an appearance on ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and he was host and mentor of the critically-acclaimed show, ‘The Contender’ on ESPN,” said Drew Mercy, Chairman of the annual Antelope Valley Board of Trade Conference.

Leonard recently served as a choreographer on the fight scenes for the hit movie “Real Steel” which premiered in October 2011. He wrote his autobiography entitled The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring” published in 2011.

After winning a gold medal in boxing at the 1976 Olympic Games, he turned professional to help his family defer mounting medical bills incurred because of his father’s illness. During his twenty-year professional career, Leonard also won world titles in the welterweight, junior middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight divisions. He was the first boxer to win world titles in five different weight classes, a record that stands to this day.

Leonard’s sincere, charismatic personality coupled with his ring experience led to a successful career as a television broadcaster for NBC, ABC, HBO and ESPN. In addition, his celebrity status fostered commercial endorsement relationships with numerous companies including EA Sports, Vartec Telecom, Track Inc., Ford, Carnation, 7-Up, Nabisco, Coca-Cola and Revlon.

Board President Rhonda Nelson says, “I am looking forward to hearing what this world class athlete has to say. He’s energetic and charismatic – a winning combination.”

Other featured speakers at the conference will be Dr. Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast; Joe Brennan, Production Operations Director for The Spaceship Company; and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr.

Individual tickets are $150 each or $1,200 for a table of eight, with members receiving a 10% discount. For tickets contact the AV Board of Trade office at 661-942-9581 or e-mail

(Information via press release from Chapman Communications.)