The question is often asked, “Who’s the greatest fighter of all-time?” Is it Muhammad Ali? No. Is it Joe Louis? No. The answer to that question is Sugar Ray Robinson.
The man we know as Sugar Ray Robinson, was born Walker Smith, Jr. on May 3, 1921 in Ailey, Georgia. He got into boxing at the age of twelve when he moved to Harlem, New York. It was at Harlem Gym, where he trained. Two years later, he entered a tournament, but was told that he needed an AAU Card. Smith then borrowed a card from a friend, whose name was Ray Robinson. When people saw Robinson box at that time, they commented that his style was “sweet as sugar.” After that he became known Sugar Ray Robinson.
By 1940, Robinson had an amateur record 84-1, which includes winning the New York Golden Gloves Championship. His only lost was to Billy Graham. One of his wins even includes the legendary Willie Pep. Later that year, he turned professional. By 1943, Robinson was undefeated with a 40-0 record. Unfortunately, Robinson suffered his first defeat against Jake LaMatta in a rematch of a 1942 fight, which Robinson won by decision. In this rematch, not only did Robinson lose by decision, but was also put down for the first time in his career in the 8th round. By 1946, Robinson had a record of 73-1-1. It was later that year that Robinson received a shot at the Welterweight Championship of the World, against then champion Tommy Bell. Robinson won the fight by receiving a 15 round decision. Robinson’s last defense of the welterweight belt came against Charley Fusari. Robinson won the fight by decision. After winning that fight, Robinson vacated the welterweight belt, to move up a weightclass, the Middleweight Division.
By 1951, Robinson had a very impressive record of 120-1-2. On February 14 on that same year, Robinson and Jake LaMatta had their sixth fight, but this time for the Middleweight Championship of the World. Robinson won that fight, by TKO in the 13th round. This was the final fight between the two, a fight known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The rivalry ended with Robinson winning five out of six fights. After winning the middleweight belt, Robinson went on a European tour. During one of his fights in London, he lost the middleweight title to Randy Turpin. However, Robinson won the title back when knocked out Turpin in 10 rounds, three months later. In 1952, Robinson moved up another weightclass to take on Light-Heavyweight Champion Joey Maxim. The fight took place at Yankee Stadium in 104 degree weather. Robinson was way ahead on the scorecards. However, before the start of the 13th round, Robinson collapsed, and was unable to answer the bell. This was the first and only knockout loss of his career. After that fight, Robinson retired with a 131-3-1, and decided to go into show business. While in show business, he sang and tap danced. However, after a few years, things weren’t going well for him, and he had no choice, but to get back in the ring. He made his in-ring return in 1955. It was during that year, that Robinson won his third middleweight title, by defeating Bobo Olson. In 1957, Robinson lost the belt to Gene Fullmer. However, later that year, Robinson won the rematch by KO in the 5th round, by a picture perfect left hook. This fight made him a four time middleweight champion. During the remainder of the year and early 1958, Robinson had a few fights against Carmen Basilio. Basilio won the first fight, and the middleweight belt. Robinson won the rematch and the middleweight belt for the fifth time.
By the 1960’s Robinson was fighting some unknown guys, he even fought Fullmer for the forth time, trying to get his sixth middleweight championship, but was unsuccessful. Robinson’s final fight was in 1965 against Joey Archer, which Archer won by decision. After this fight Robinson retired for good, with a 173-19-6 (108 KO’s) record, having 200 fights. A month after his last fight, Robinson was honored in New York’s Madison Square Garden, with a trophy. The crowd gave him a stand ovation.
For the remainder of his life, Robinson was diagnosed with diabetes. He also suffered from drug addiction. During Robinson’s final years, he was diagnosed with alzheimer’s disease. Robinson died on April 12, 1989 at age 67.
In conclusion, there were many boxers to grace their presences in the squared circle, but Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest of them all. He was truly the perfect boxer, having speed, power, etc. He was a One-Time Welterweight Champion, and a Five-Time Middleweight Champion. He is considered by many as the greatest, including Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, who stated, “I’m the greatest heavyweight of all time, but Robinson is pound for pound, the greatest.” Sugar Ray Robinson is truly the greatest of all time. Sugar Ray Robinson: R.I.P.: 1921-1989…..you are truly the greatest and will be sourly missed.
by: Chris E.