Sugar Ray Robinson: Wikis


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Sugar Ray Robinson
Real name Walker Smith Jr
Nickname(s) Sugar
Rated at Lightweight
Light heavyweight
Nationality American
Birth date May 3, 1921(1921-05-03)
Birth place Detroit
Death date April 12, 1989 (aged 67)
Death place Culver City, California Interment Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood California.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 200
Wins 175
Wins by KO 109
Losses 19
Draws 6

Sugar Ray Robinson (born Walker Smith Jr., May 3, 1921 – April 12, 1989) was a professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson's performances at the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

Robinson was 85-0 as an amateur with 69 of those victories coming by way of knockout, 40 in the first round. He turned professional in 1940 at the age of 19 and by 1951 had a professional record of 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts. Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and won the world middleweight title in the latter year. He retired in 1952, only to come back two and a half years later and regain the middleweight title in 1955. He then became the first boxer in history to win a divisional world championship five times, a feat he accomplished by defeating Carmen Basilio in 1958 to regain the middleweight championship. Robinson was named "fighter of the year" twice: first for his performances in 1942, then nine years and over 90 fights later, for his efforts in 1951. He defeated other Hall of Fame fighters such as Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Carl 'Bobo' Olson, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan . Robinson engaged in 200 pro bouts, and his professional career lasted nearly 26 years.

Robinson was named the greatest fighter of the 20th century by the Associated Press, and the greatest boxer in history by in 2007. The Ring magazine rated him the best pound for pound boxer of all-time in 1997, and its "Fighter of the Decade" for the 1950s. Muhammad Ali, who repeatedly called himself "The Greatest" throughout his career, ranked Robinson as the greatest boxer of all time. Other Hall of Fame boxers such as Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard said the same.

Renowned for his flamboyant lifestyle outside the ring, Robinson is credited with being the originator of the modern sports "entourage". After his boxing career ended, Robinson attempted a career as an entertainer, but struggled, and lived modestly until his death in 1989. In 2006, he was featured on a commemorative stamp by the United States Postal Service.


Early life

Robinson was born Walker Smith Jr. in either Ailey, Georgia, (according to his birth certificate) — or Detroit, Michigan, (according to his autobiography),[1] to Walker Smith Sr. and Leila Hurst.[2] Robinson was the youngest of three children; his older sister Marie was born in 1917 and his older sister Evelyn was born in 1919. His father was a cotton, peanut, and corn farmer in Georgia, who moved the family to Detroit where he initially found work as a construction worker.[2] According to Robinson, Smith Sr. later worked two jobs to support his family—cement mixer and sewer worker. "He had to get up at six in the morning and he'd get home close to midnight. Six days a week. The only day I really saw him was Sunday...I always wanted to be with him more."[3]

His parents separated and he moved with his mother to Harlem at the age of twelve. Robinson originally aspired to be a doctor, but after dropping out of De Witt Clinton High school in ninth grade he switched his goal to boxing.[4] When he was 14, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament but was told he needed to first obtain an AAU membership card. However, he could not procure one until he was sixteen years old. He received his name when he circumvented the AAU's age restriction by borrowing a card from his friend Ray Robinson.[1] Subsequently told that his style was "sweet as sugar" by future manager George Gainford, Smith Jr. became known as "Sugar" Ray Robinson.[5][6]

Robinson idolized Henry Armstrong and Joe Louis as a youth, and actually lived on the same block as Louis in Detroit when Robinson was 11 and Louis was 17.[6] Robinson stated in his autobiography that he was devastated when Louis lost to Max Schmeling in 1936—he even briefly contemplated quitting boxing.[7] Outside of the ring, Robinson got into trouble frequently as a youth, and was involved with a violent street gang.[6] He also married when he was 16. He had one child with his wife before divorcing her at the age of 19.[6]

Boxing career


Amateur career

He finished his amateur career with an 85–0 record with 69 knockouts—40 coming in the first round. He won the Golden Gloves featherweight championship in 1939, and the organization's lightweight championship in 1940.[1]

Early professional career

Robinson made his professional debut on October 4, 1940, winning via second-round knockout over Joe Echevarria.[8] Robinson fought five more times in 1940, winning each time, with four wins coming by way of knockout.[8] In 1941, he defeated world champion Sammy Angott, future champion Marty Servo and former champion Fritzie Zivic. The Robinson-Angott fight was held above the lightweight limit, since Angott did not want to risk losing his lightweight title. Robinson defeated Zivic in front of 20,551 at Madison Square Garden—one of the largest crowds in the arena to that date.[9] Robinson won the first five rounds according to The New York Times Joseph C. Nichols, before Zivic came back to land several punches to Robinson's head in the sixth and seventh rounds.[9] Robinson controlled the next two rounds, and had Zivic wobbly in the ninth. After a close tenth round, Robinson was announced as the winner on all three scorecards.[9]

In 1942, Robinson knocked out Zivic in the tenth round in a January rematch.[8] The knockout loss was only the second of Zivic's career in more than 150 fights.[10] Robinson knocked him down in the ninth and tenth rounds before the referee stopped the fight. Zivic and his corner protested the stoppage; James P. Dawson of The New York Times stated, however, that "[t]hey were criticizing a humane act. The battle had been a slaughter, for want of a more delicate word."[10] Robinson then won four consecutive bouts by knockout, before defeating Servo in a controversial split decision in their May rematch.[8] After winning three more fights, Robinson faced Jake LaMotta, who would become one of his more prominent rivals, for the first time in October.[8] He defeated LaMotta via unanimous decision. Robinson weighed 145 lb (66 kg) compared to 157.5 for LaMotta, but he was able to control the fight from the outside the entire bout, and actually landed the harder punches during the fight.[11] Robinson then won four more fights, including two against Izzy Jannazzo, from October 19 to December 14.[8] For his performances, Robinson was named "Fighter of the Year". He finished 1942 with a total of 14 wins and no losses.[8]

Robinson built a record of 40–0 before losing for the first time to LaMotta in a 10 round re-match.[8][12] LaMotta, who had a 16 lb (7.3 kg) weight advantage over Robinson, knocked Robinson out of the ring in the eighth round, and won the fight by decision.[8] The fight took place in Robinson's former home town of Detroit, and attracted a record crowd.[12] After being controlled by Robinson in the early portions of the fight, LaMotta came back to take control in the later rounds.[12] After winning the third LaMotta fight less than three weeks later,[8] Robinson then defeated his childhood idol former champion Henry Armstrong. Robinson only fought Armstrong because Armstrong was in need of finances. By now Armstrong was an old fighter, and Robinson later stated that he carried Armstrong.

On February 27, 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army, where he was again referred to as Walker Smith.[13] Robinson had a short 15 month military career. Robinson served with Joe Louis, and the pair went on tours where they performed exhibition bouts in front of US troops. Robinson got into trouble several times while in the military. He argued with superiors who he felt were discriminatory against him, and refused to fight exhibitions when he was told African American soldiers were not allowed to watch them.[6][14] In late March, 1944, Robinson was stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, waiting to ship out to Europe, where he was scheduled to perform more exhibition matches. But on March 29, Robinson disappeared from his barracks. When he woke up on April 5th in Fort Jay Hospital on Governor's Island, he had missed his sailing for Europe and was under suspicion of deserting. He himself reported falling down the stairs in his barracks on the 29th, but said that he had complete amnesia, and he could not remember any events from that moment until the 5th. According to his file, a stranger had found him in the street on the 1st of April and helped him to a hospital. In his examination report, a doctor at Fort Jay concluded that Robinson's version of events was sincere. [15] He was examined by military authorities, who claimed he suffered from a mental deficiency.[16] Robinson was granted an honorable discharge on June 3, 1944. He later wrote that unfair press coverage of the incident had "branded" him as a "deserter." [17] Robinson maintained his close friendship with Louis from their time in military service, and the two went into business together after the war. They planned to start a liquor distribution business in New York City, but were denied a license due to their race.[18]

Besides the loss in the LaMotta rematch, the only other mark on Robinson's record during this period was a 10 round draw against Jose Basora in 1945.[8]

Welterweight Champion

By 1946, Robinson had fought 75 fights to a 73–1–1 record,[8] and beaten every top contender in the welterweight division. However, he refused to cooperate with the Mafia, which controlled much of boxing at the time, and was denied a chance to fight for the welterweight championship.[19] Robinson was finally given a chance to win a title against Tommy Bell on December 20, 1946.[8] Robinson had already beaten Bell once via decision in 1945. The two fought for the title vacated by Servo, who had himself lost twice to Robinson in non-title bouts. In the fight, Robinson, who only a month before had been involved in a 10 round brawl with Artie Levine, was knocked down by Bell.[8] The fight was called a "war," but Robinson was able to pull out a close 15 round decision, winning the vacant welterweight title.

In June 1947, after four non-title bouts, Robinson was scheduled to defend his title for the first time in a bout against Jimmy Doyle.[8] Before the fight, Robinson had a dream that he was going to accidentally kill Doyle in the ring.[20] As a result, he decided to pull out of the fight. However, a priest and a minister convinced him to go ahead with the bout. On the night of June 25th, Robinson dominated Doyle and scored a decisive knockout in the eighth round that knocked Doyle unconscious and resulted in Doyle's death that night.[20]

In 1948, Robinson fought five times, but only one bout was a title defense. Among the fighters he defeated in those non-title bouts, was future world champion Kid Gavilan in a close, controversial 10 round fight. Gavilan hurt Robinson several times in the fight, but Robinson controlled the final rounds with a series of jabs and left hooks.[21] In 1949, he boxed 16 times, but again only defended his title once. In that title fight, a rematch with Gavilan, Robinson again won via decision. The first half of the bout was very close, but Robinson took control in the second half. Gavilan would have to wait two more years to begin his own historic reign as welterweight champion. The only boxer to match Robinson that year was Henry Brimm, who fought him to a 10-round draw in Buffalo.

Robinson fought 19 times in 1950.[8] He successfully defended his welterweight title for the last time against Charley Fusari. Robinson won a lopsided 15 round decision, knocking Fusari down once.[8] Robinson donated all but $1 of his purse for the Fusari fight to cancer research.[22] In 1950, Robinson fought George Costner, who had also taken to calling himself "Sugar" and stated in the weeks leading up to the fight that he was the rightful deserver of the name. "We better touch gloves, because this is the only round," Robinson said as the fighters were introduced at the center of the ring. "Your name ain't Sugar, mine is."[23] Robinson then knocked Costner out in 2 minutes and 49 seconds.[8]

Middleweight Champion

Robinson stated in his autobiography that one of the main considerations for his move up to middleweight was the increasing difficulty he was having in making the 147 lb (67 kg) welterweight weight limit.[24] However, the move would also prove beneficial financially as the division then contained some of the biggest names in boxing. Vying for the Pennsylvania state middleweight title in 1950, Robinson defeated Robert Villemain.[8] Later that year, in defense of that crown, he defeated Jose Basora, who had previously drawn with Robinson. Robinson's 50-second knock-out of Basora in the rematch set a record that would stand for 38 years. Robinson then defeated Carl Olson, a future title holder at that weight whom Robinson later met and defeated three more times.

On February 14, 1951, Robinson and LaMotta met for the sixth time. The fight would become known as The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won the undisputed world middleweight title with a 13th round technical knockout.[8] Robinson out boxed LaMotta for the first 10 rounds, then unleashed a series of savage combinations on LaMotta for three rounds[6], finally stopping the champion for the first time in their legendary six bout series—and giving LaMotta his first legitimate knockout loss in 95 professional bouts.[25] This bout, and some of the other bouts in the six-fight Robinson-LaMotta rivalry, was depicted in the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull. "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes," LaMotta later said.[5] Robinson won five of the six bouts with LaMotta.[26]

After winning his second world title, he embarked on a European tour which took him all over the Continent. Robinson travelled with his flamingo-pink Cadillac, which caused quite a stir in Paris,[27] and an entourage of 13 people, some included "just for laughs".[28] He was a hero in France due to his recent defeat of LaMotta—the French hated LaMotta for defeating Marcel Cerdan in 1949 and taking his championship belt (Cerdan died in a plane ride en route to his rematch with LaMotta).[6] Robinson even met the President of France and made an impromptu decision to kiss his wife four times—twice on each cheek—in front of a ceremony attended by France's upper crust.[29] During his fight in Berlin against Gerhard Hecht, Robinson was disqualified when he knocked his opponent with a punch to the kidney: a punch legal in the US, but not Europe.[20] The fight was later declared a no-contest.[8] In London, he lost the world middleweight title to Englishman Randy Turpin in a sensational bout.[30] Three months later in front of 60,000 fans at the Polo Grounds,[20] he knocked Turpin out in ten rounds to recover the title. In that bout Robinson was leading on the cards but was cut by Turpin. With the fight in jeopardy, Robinson let loose on Turpin, knocking him down, then getting him to the ropes and unleashing a series of punches, causing the referee to stop the bout.[31] Following the victory, residents of Harlem danced in the streets.[32] Robinson won the "Fighter of the Year" award again for his performances in 1951.

In 1952, he fought a rematch with Olson which he won by decision.[8] He then defeated former champion, Rocky Graziano, in a 3 round fight, before challenging world light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim at Yankee Stadium. Robinson built a lead on all three judges scorecards, but the 103 degree temperature inside the ring took its toll.[5] The referee, Ruby Goldstein, was the first victim of the heat, and had to be replaced by referee Ray Miller. The fast-moving Robinson was next, and at the end of round 13, Robinson collapsed from the heat and failed to answer the bell for the next round,[5] and suffered the only knock-out of his career.[8]

After that bout, Robinson retired with a record of 131-3-1-1 and dedicated his time to show business; singing and tap dancing. After about three years, the decline of his businesses, lack of success in his performance career, Robinson decided to make his return to boxing.

physical condition: in his autobiography, Robinson states that in the weeks leading up to his debut for a dancing engagement in Franceicant Robinson and Anderson. pg. 227 </ref> Robinson began his comeback 1955, winning a knockout in his first return bout before losing a decision to Ralph 'Tiger' Jones. He bounced back, however, and defeated Rocky Castellani by a split decision, then challenged Bobo Olson for the world middleweight title. He won the middleweight championship for the third time via a second round knockout—his third victory over Olson. He followed this with another knockout over Olson a year later in his last successful title defense, blasting Olson with quick left hooks, defeating him for the fourth and final time, stopping him for the third time.

In 1957, Robinson lost his title to Gene Fullmer.[8] Fullmer used his aggressive, forward moving style to control Robinson, and knocked him down in the fight.[33] Robinson, however, noticed that Fullmer was vulnerable to the left hook. Fullmer headed into their May rematch as a 3–1 favorite.[34] In the first two rounds Robinson followed Fullmer around the ring, however in the third round he changed tactics and made Fullmer come to him.[34] At the start of the fourth round Robinson came out on the attack and stunned Fullmer, and when Fullmer returned with his own punches, Robinson traded with him, as opposed to clinching as he had done in their earlier fight. The fight was fairly even after four rounds.[34] But in the fifth, Robinson was able to win the title back for a fourth time by knocking out Fullmer with a lightning fast, powerful left hook.[34] Boxing critics have referred to the left-hook which knocked out Fullmer as "the perfect punch".[35] It marked the first time in 44 career fights that Fullmer had been knocked out, and when someone asked Robinson after the fight how far the left hook had travelled, Robinson replied: "I can't say. But he got the message."[34]

Later that year, he lost his title to former welterweight champion Carmen Basilio in a rugged 15 round fight in front of 38,000 at Yankee Stadium,[36] but regained it for a record fifth time when he beat Basilio in the rematch. Robinson struggled to make weight, and had to go without food for nearly 20 hours leading up to the bout. He badly damaged Basilio's eye early in the fight, and by the seventh round it was swollen shut.[37] The two judges gave the fight to Robinson by wide margins: 72–64 and 71–64. The referee scored the fight for Basilio 69–64, and was booed loudly by the crowd of 19,000 when his decision was announced.[37] The first fight won the "Fight of the Year" award from The Ring magazine for 1957 and the second fight won the "Fight of the Year" award for 1958.[8]


Robinson knocked out Bob Young in the second round in Boston in his only fight in 1959.[8] A year later, he defended his title against Paul Pender. Robinson entered the fight as a 5–1 favorite, but lost a split decision in front of 10,608 at Boston Garden.[38] The day before the fight Pender commented that he planned to start slowly, before coming on late. He did just that and outlasted the aging Robinson, who, despite opening a cut over Pender's eye in the eighth round, was largely ineffective in the later rounds.[38] An attempt to regain the crown for an unheard of sixth time proved beyond Robinson. Despite Robinson's efforts, Pender won by decision in that rematch. On December 3 of that year, Robinson and Fullmer fought a 15-round draw for the WBA middleweight title, which Fullmer retained.[8] In 1961, Robinson and Fullmer fought for a fourth time, with Fullmer retaining the NBA middleweight title by a unanimous decision.[8] The fight would be Robinson's last title bout.

Robinson spent the rest of the 1960s fighting 10-round contests. In October 1961, Robinson defeated future world champion Denny Moyer via unanimous decision. A 12–5 favorite, the 41 year old Robinson defeated the 22 year old Moyer by staying on the outside, rather than engaging him.[39] In their rematch four months later, Moyer defeated Robinson on points, as he pressed the action and made Robinson back up throughout the fight. Moyer won 7–3 on all three judges scorecards.[40] Robinson lost twice more in 1962, before winning six consecutive fights against mostly lesser opposition.[8] In February 1963, Robinson lost via unanimous decision to former world champion and fellow Hall of Famer Joey Giardello. Giardello knocked Robinson down in the fourth round, and the 43 year old took until the count of nine to rise to his feet.[41] Robinson was also nearly knocked down in the sixth round, but was saved by the bell. He rallied in the seventh and eight rounds, before struggling in the final two.[41] Robinson also embarked on another tour of Europe.

Robinson fought for the final time in 1965. He lost via unanimous decision to Joey Archer.[42] Famed sports author Pete Hamill mentioned that one of the saddest experiences of his life was watching Robinson lose to Archer. He was even knocked down and Hamill pointed out that Archer had no knockout punch at all; Archer admitted afterward that it was only the second time he had knocked an opponent down in his career.[8] The crowd of 9,023 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh gave Robinson several standing ovations, even while he was being thoroughly outperformed by Archer.[42]

On November 11, 1965, Robinson announced his retirement from boxing, saying: "I hate to go too long campaigning for another chance."[43] Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 175-19-6 with 110 knockouts in 200 professional bouts,[8] ranking him among the all-time leaders in knockouts.

After retiring as a boxer

In his autobiography Robinson states that by 1965 he was broke, having spent all of the $4 million in earnings he made inside and out of the ring in his career.[44] A month after his last fight, Robinson was honored with a Sugar Ray Robinson Night on December 10, 1965 in New York's Madison Square Garden. During the ceremony, he was honored with a massive trophy. However, there was not a piece of furniture in his small Manhattan apartment with legs strong enough to support it. Robinson was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967, two years after he retired. Very few remember that he participated, impersonating a retired boxer, in two episodes ([The Contenders, part 1 and 2][2]) of the third season of Mission Impossible, in 1968. In 1966, he portrayed Biff Bower, an ex-boxer turned club owner and trumpet player in the Irwin Allen series "Land of the Giants" episode, "Giants and All That Jazz." In 1969 he founded the Sugar Ray Robinson Youth Foundation for inner-city Los Angeles area. The foundation does not sponsor a boxing program.[45] He was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus that was treated with insulin.[46] In Robinson's last years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.[46] He died in Los Angeles at the age of 67 and was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

Personal life

Robinson married Marjorie Joseph in 1938; the marriage was annulled the same year. Their son, Ronnie Smith, was born in 1939. Robinson met his second wife Edna Mae Holly, a noted dancer who performed at the Cotton Club and toured Europe with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, in 1940.[47] According to Robinson, he met her at a local pool he frequented after his boxing workouts. In an attempt to get her attention he pushed her into the pool one day, and claimed it was an accident.[48] After this attempt was met with disdain, he appeared at the nightclub she danced at and introduced himself. Soon the couple were dating and they married in 1943. They had one son, Ray Robinson Jr. (born 1949) and divorced in 1960.[47] In April 1959, Robinson's oldest sister Marie died of cancer at the age of 41.[49]

In 1965, Robinson married Millie Wiggins Bruce, who was several years his senior, and the couple settled in Los Angeles.[20] When Robinson was sick with his various ailments, his son accused Robinson's wife of keeping him under the influence of medication to manipulate him. According to Ray Robinson Jr., when Sugar Ray's mother died, Sugar Ray could not attend his mother's funeral because Millie was drugging and controlling him.[50] However, Robinson had been hospitalized the day before his mother's death due to agitation which caused his blood pressure to rise. Robinson Jr. and Edna Mae also claimed that they were kept away from Robinson by Millie during the last years of his life.[50]

Boxing style

Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm or you're in trouble.
—Ray Robinson[51]

Robinson was a fluid boxer who possessed a quick jab and knockout power. He possessed tremendous versatility—according to boxing analyst Bert Sugar, "Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward."[52] Robinson was efficient with both hands, and he displayed a variety of effective punches—according to a TIME magazine article in 1951, "Robinson's repertoire, thrown with equal speed and power by either hand, includes every standard punch from a bolo to a hook—and a few he makes up on the spur of the moment."[6] Robinson commented that once a fighter has trained to a certain level, their techniques and responses become almost reflexive. "You don't think. It's all instinct. If you stop to think, you're gone."[53]


Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there's no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest.
—Sugar Ray Leonard[52]
Without a doubt the greatest pound for pound fighter that ever lived.
—Jake LaMotta[54]
The king, the master, my idol.
—Muhammad Ali [54]
My inspiration for success.
—Vishka Vasquez [54]

Robinson is widely considered the greatest boxer in history, and has been ranked as the greatest boxer of all time by sportswriters, fellow boxers, and trainers.[1][54] The phrase "pound for pound", was created by sportswriters for him during his career as a way to compare boxers irrespective of weight,[5][23] and Hall of Fame fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard have ranked Robinson as the greatest pound for pound boxer in history.[52][55][56] In 1997, The Ring ranked him as the best pound for pound fighter in history,[5] and in 1999, he was named "welterweight of the century" and "middleweight of the century" by the Associated Press.[57] In 2007, featured the piece "50 Greatest Boxers of All Time", in which it named Robinson the top boxer in history.[58] In 2003, The Ring magazine ranked him number 11 in the list of all-time greatest punchers in history.[59] In 1996, a Sky Sports panel consisting of former WBA Featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, The Sun's boxing correspondent Colin Hart and esteemed boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge, voted Robinson as the greatest pound for pound fighter of all time.

Robinson was one of the first African Americans to establish himself as a star outside of sports. He was an integral part of the New York social scene in the 1940s and 1950s.[5] His glamorous restaurant, Sugar Ray's, hosted stars such as Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Nat "King" Cole, Joe Louis, and Lena Horne among others.[60] Robinson was known as a flamboyant personality outside the ring. He combined striking good looks,[61] with charisma, and a flair for the dramatic: He drove a flamingo-pink Cadillac, and was an accomplished singer and dancer, who once pursued a career in the entertainment industry.[62] According to's Ron Flatter: "He was the pioneer of boxing's bigger-than-life entourages, including a secretary, barber, masseur, voice coach, a coterie of trainers, beautiful women, a dwarf mascot and lifelong manager George Gainford."[5][63] When Robinson later returned to Paris in 1962—where he was still a national hero—to get him to cross the seas the French had to promise to bring over his masseur, his hairdresser, a guy who whistled while he trained, and his trademark Cadillac.[64] This larger than life persona made him the idol of millions of African American youths in the 1950s. Robinson inspired several other fighters who took the nickname "Sugar" in homage to him such as Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Shane Mosley.

Robinson was much respected for his discipline by jazz artist Miles Davis who named a song after the boxer from his 1970 album A Tribute To Jack Johnson recording sessions. The song can be heard on The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions box set which features song title references to many other boxing greats.

Sugar Ray is mentioned in the lyrics of Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire." The artist Jean-Michel Basquiat painted an homage to the boxer Untitled (Sugar Ray Robinson), in 1982. Robinson was also featured on a 2006 United States postage stamp, which reportedly had a circulation of over 100 million.[65].

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Sugar Ray Robinson Returns to the Ring to a 'Stamping Ovation' of 100 Million,, April 7, 2006, accessed June 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Robinson and Anderson. pg. 7
  3. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pgs.woman 8–9
  4. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 5
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Flatter, Ron. The sugar in the sweet science,, accessed June 6, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Businessman Boxer, TIME, June 25, 1951, available online via, accessed June 6, 2007.
  7. ^ Robinson and Anderon. pg. 40
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Sugar Ray Robinson,, accessed June 4, 2007.
  9. ^ a b c Nichols, Joseph C.Harlem Fighter Still Unbeaten, The New York Times, November 1, 1941, accessed June 6, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Dawson, James P. Robinson Knocks Out Zivic in Tenth Round to Score 27th Victory in Row, The New York Times, January 17, 1942, accessed June 6, 2007.
  11. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Takes Unanimous Decision Over La Motta in Garden 10-Round Bout,The New York Times, October 3, 1942, accessed June 6, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c Associated Press. Robinson's Streak Ended by LaMotta, The New York Times, February 6, 1943, accessed June 6, 2007.
  13. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 110
  14. ^ Robinson also discusses this at length in: Robinson and Anderson. Chapter nine
  15. ^ Robinson and Anderson, pp. 126-130
  16. ^ Ray Robinson,, accessed June 6, 2007.
  17. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 130
  18. ^ Boyd and Robinson II. pg. 94
  19. ^ Sugar: Too sweet for Raging Bull,, July 13, 2001, accessed June 6, 2007.
  20. ^ a b c d e Sugar Ray Robinson, Contemporary Black Biography, The Gale Group, 2006 ISBN 0-7876-7927-5, available online via, accessed June 6, 2007.
  21. ^ Boyd and Robinson II. pg. 93
  22. ^ Boyd and Robinson II. pgs. 105–06
  23. ^ a b Anderson, Dave. Sports of the Times; The Original Sugar Ray 'Never Lost', The New York Times, April 13, 1989, accessed April 10, 2008.
  24. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 165
  25. ^ Jake LaMotta,, accessed June 6, 2007.
    * LaMotta had lost by knockout to Billy Fox earlier in his career. However, that fight was later ruled to have been fixed and LaMotta was sanctioned for letting Fox win.
  26. ^ "Sugar Ray Robinson: Fighting Toward Transcendence". Morning Edition. National Public Radio. December 30, 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  27. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pgs. 187–88
  28. ^ Dethroned in London, The New York Times, July 15, 1951, accessed June 6, 2007.
  29. ^ Sugar Ray Gives Mme. Auriol Kiss; Boxer as Cancer Fund 'Envoy,' Busses French Chief's Wife Twice on Each Cheek, The New York Times, May 17, 1951, accessed June 6, 2007.
  30. ^ Sugar's Lumps, TIME, July 23, 1951, available online at, accessed June 6, 2007.
  31. ^ Daley, Arthur. Sports of The Times; For the Championship, The New York Times, September 12, 1951, accessed June 6, 2007.
  32. ^ Harlem Hails Robinson; More Than 10,000 Cheer Verdict, Sing and Dance in Street, The New York Times, September 13, 1951, accessed June 6, 2007.
  33. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. Utah 160-Pounder to Defend Crown, The New York Times, May 1, 1957, accessed June 6, 2007.
  34. ^ a b c d e Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Knocks Out Fullmer in Fifth Round to Regain Middleweight Crown, The New York Times, May 2, 1957 accessed June 6, 2007.
  35. ^ Fitzgerald and Hudson. pg. 40
    *Gene Fullmer,, accessed June 6, 2007.
  36. ^ Basilio Takes Title By Beating Robinson, The New York Times, September 24, 1957, accessed June 6, 2007.
  37. ^ a b Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Outpoints Basilio and Wins World Middleweight Title Fifth Time.The New York Times, March 26, 1958, accessed June 6, 2007.
  38. ^ a b nichols, Joseph C. 5-1 Choice Loses A Split Decision, The New York Times, January 23, 1960, accessed June 6, 2007.
  39. ^ Conkilin, William R. Robinson Beats Moyer in Ten-Rounder Here, The New York Times, October 22, 1961, accessed June 6, 2007.
  40. ^ Teague, Robert L. Denny Moyer Defeats Robinson, The New York Times, February 18, 1962, accessed June 6, 2007.
  41. ^ a b Left Hook Floors Sugar Ray in 4th, The New York Times, June 25, 1963, accessed June 6, 2007.
  42. ^ a b Associated Press. Robinson Beaten in Archer Fight, The New York Times, November 11, 1965, accessed June 6, 2007.
  43. ^ Associated Press. Robinson Declares Bout With Archer Was His Last Fight, The New York Times, November 12, 1965, accessed June 6, 2007.
  44. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 4
  45. ^ Wiley. pg. 223
  46. ^ a b Pace, Frank. Keeping Pace with Sugar Ray Robinson, LA Sports Magazine, August 1976, available online via, accessed June 5, 2007.
  47. ^ a b Edna Mae Robinson, ex-wife of boxing champ Sugar Ray Robinson, dies, JET, May 27, 2002, available online via, accessed June 6, 2007.
  48. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pgs. 90–1
  49. ^ Ray Robinson's' Sister Dies, The New York Times, April 21, 1959, accessed June 6, 2007.
  50. ^ a b Wiley. pg. 221
  51. ^ Robinson and Anderson. pg. 75
  52. ^ a b c Sugar Ray Robinson quotes,, accessed June 6, 2007.
  53. ^ Hauser. pg. 29
  54. ^ a b c d Sugar Ray Bio,, accessed June 4, 2007.
    *Review Joe and Teddy Pick Their Top Fighters,, accessed June 4, 2007.
    * Smith, Michael David. ESPN Greatest Boxers List: Sugar Ray Robinson No. 1,, May 13, 2007, accessed June 6, 2007.
    * Wiley. pg. 226
    *Anderson, Dave. Sugar Ray Robinson, Boxing's 'Best,' Is Dead, The New York Times, April 13, 1989, accessed April 10, 2008.
    * Trickett, Alex, and Dirs, Ben. Who is the greatest of them all?,, June 13, 2005, accessed June 6, 2007.
  55. ^ Kehoe, Patrick. Ray Robinson: The champions’ champion., accessed June 4, 2007.
  56. ^ Hauser. pg. 212
  57. ^ Associated Press. Sugar Ray named century's best,, December 8, 1999, accessed March 4, 2009.
  58. ^ [1],, accessed March 18, 2009.
  59. ^ Ring Magazine's 100 Greatest Punchers, The Ring, (2003), available online at, accessed June 6, 2007.
  60. ^ Boyd and Robinson II. pg. 105
  61. ^ Goldman, Albert. Sugar Ray: Is He a Black Gable?, The New York Times, October 8, 1968, accessed June 6, 2007.
    * Sammons. pg. xii
    *The Man Who Comes Back, TIME, April 7, 1958, available via accessed June 6, 2007.
  62. ^ Fitzgerald and Hudson. pgs. 205–06
  63. ^ Robinson talks in length about his decision to travel with such a large group of people in: Robinson and Anderson. Chapter 13—When he travelled to Paris, a steward referred to his companions as his "entourage" though Robinson states he did not like the literal definition (attendants) as he felt they were his friends, he liked the word and began to use it in regular conservation when referring to them. ibid. pg. 169
  64. ^ Daley, Robert. Sugar Ray Is Still Young in Paris; Age Hasn't Dimmed Robinson's Skills in Frenchmen's Eyes, The New York Times, May 13, 1962, accessed June 6, 2007.
  65. ^ The 2006 Commemorative Stamp Program,, November 30, 2005, accessed June 6, 2007.


  • Boyd, Herb, and Robinson, Ray II. Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson, New York: HarperCollins, 2005 ISBN 0-06-018876-6
  • Donelson, Thomas, and Lotierzo, Frank. Viewing Boxing from Ringside, Lincoln: iUniverse, 2002 ISBN 0-595-23748-7
  • Fitzgerald, Mike H., and Hudson, Dabid L. Boxing's Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Champs, Chumps and Punch-drunk Palookas, Virginia: Brassey's, 2004 ISBN 1-57488-714-9
  • Hauser, Thomas. The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing, Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000 ISBN 1-55728-597-7

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Marty Servo
World Welterweight Champion
20 Dec 1946– 14 Feb 1951
Succeeded by
Johnny Bratton
Recognized by NBA
Preceded by
Jake LaMotta
World Middleweight Champion
14 Feb 1951– 10 Jul 1951
Succeeded by
Randy Turpin
Preceded by
Randy Turpin
World Middleweight Champion
12 Sep 1951– Dec 1952
Succeeded by
Carl (Bobo) Olson
Preceded by
Carl (Bobo) Olson
World Middleweight Champion
9 Dec 1955– 2 Jan 1957
Succeeded by
Gene Fullmer
Preceded by
Gene Fullmer
World Middleweight Champion
1 May 1957– 23 Sep 1957
Succeeded by
Carmen Basilio
Preceded by
Carmen Basilio
World Middleweight Champion
25 Mar 1958– 22 Jan 1960
Only recognized by New York and Massachusetts at time of title loss
Succeeded by
Paul Pender


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sugar Ray Robinson (May 3, 1921April 12, 1989), born Walker Smith Jr., was a professional boxer. Generally regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Robinson's performances at the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967.



  • Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm or you're in trouble.
    • Ray Robinson 'Sugar Ray Robinson with Dave Anderson' page 75

About Sugar Ray sourced

  • He boxed as though he were playing the violin.
    • Bert Randolph Sugar a well known boxing writer[[1]]
  • Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward.
    • Bert Randolph Sugar[[2]]
  • Robinson's repertoire, thrown with equal speed and power by either hand, includes every standard punch from a bolo to a hook—and a few he makes up on the spur of the moment.
    • Time mag article 'Businessman Boxer'[[3]]
  • Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there's no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest.
  • The king, the master, my idol.
    • Muhammad Ali holds Sugar in high regard[[5]]
  • He come at me with two punches, a left and a right. I didn't know which hit me first. The punches didn't hurt me, but when I started to move, my legs wouldn't go with me, and I fell over on my head.
    • Tommy Bell speaks about getting knockedout by Sugar[[6]]


  • You don't think. It's all instinct. If you stop to think, you're gone.
  • To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.
  • I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Sugar Ray Robinson (born Walker Smith Jr., May 3, 1921April 12, 1989) was an American boxer who won the welterweight and middleweight world championships. Many boxing historians rank Robinson as the best boxer who ever lived.

Robinson had no losses as an amateur boxer. He became a professional boxer in 1940 and won the welterweight title from Johnny Bratton in 1946. He then beat Jake LaMotta (who had, up to that time, been the only man to beat him) for the middleweight championship in 1951. He lost and regained the title from Randy Turpin before trying, and failing, to beat Joey Maxim for the light heavyweight championship in 1952. He retired later that year.

He made a comeback, however, and won the middleweight title again in 1955. He lost it to Gene Fullmer in 1957, but defeated him in a rematch. Later that year Carmen Basilio also beat Robinson for the title, but Robinson defeated him in 1958 to get the championship back.

Robinson continued to fight until the 1960s. He died in 1989.

Other Websites

Preceded by
Marty Servo
World Welterweight Champion
20 Dec 1946 – 14 Feb 1951
Succeeded by
Johnny Bratton
Preceded by
Jake LaMotta
World Middleweight Champion
14 Feb 1951 – 10 Jul 1951
Succeeded by
Randy Turpin
Preceded by
Randy Turpin
World Middleweight Champion
12 Sep 1951 – Dec 1952
Succeeded by
Carl (Bobo) Olson
Preceded by
Carl (Bobo) Olson
World Middleweight Champion
9 Dec 1955 – 2 Jan 1957
Succeeded by
Gene Fullmer
Preceded by
Gene Fullmer
World Middleweight Champion
1 May 1957 – 23 Sep 1957
Succeeded by
Carmen Basilio
Preceded by
Carmen Basilio
World Middleweight Champion
25 Mar 1958 – 22 Jan 1960
Succeeded by
Paul Pender


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