Usher Raymond is ripped and ready for his upcoming role as boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and showing off his goods for the 25th anniversary issue of Men's Health.
The 34-year-old singer will co-star in the Roberto Durán biopic Hands of Stone, alongside Robert De Niro and Ryan Kwanten. As "the man with the best abs in the entertainment industry," Raymond was called on by the quarter-century-old glossy to celebrate their milestone.
In speaking with Men's Health, the Soul Train Awards winner detailed his transformation into Leonard and his commitment to the role. Check out five interesting points we learned from the interview.
He might be a celebrated artist, but he beefs up like an athlete in his prime. "I train like an athlete every day, believe it or not," Raymond said while working out at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn this past summer.
He and Leonard share some physical similarities. While they both stand at 5'10, Leonard was a welterweight (146 pounds) during the time period that movie takes place. Usher, weighing in at 180 pounds, had to shed a little weight for his "match" against Roberto 'No Mas' Duran-- played by Édgar Ramírez. "I've been cruising my way down to 174, 172."
His biggest mistake while training involved a bike. And that sweltering Southern heat. "My second day I decided to ride to the gym. So I rode there. Boxed. Rode the bike back home. Mentally, I'm the type of person who can ignore the pain. Put it somewhere else and allow my body to just go there. But I always suffer. You can't box, ride a bike for 20 miles in the heat—Georgia heat—and then go to the studio and rehearse. That's not happening."
He learned that boxing must be paired with rest. "Sugar Ray Robinson said the most potent weapon in boxing is rest. Now I realize you can't push yourself all the way. You have to pull back a little bit."
He was all in for the role. "My commitment to this character demands that I not only physically get ready, but also become him. The hair, the personality, the manner he conducts himself in—all that. He's an incredible man."
Check out more photos over at Men's Health!
(Photo: Men's Health Magazine, November 2013)