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Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson was born on this date in 1921. He was a Black professional boxer.
Walker Smith, Jr., a.k.a. Sugar Ray Robinson was from Alley, Georgia. He won 89 amateur fights without a defeat, fighting first under his own name and then as Ray Robinson, using the amateur certificate of another boxer of that name in order to qualify for a bout. He won Golden Gloves titles as a featherweight in 1939 and as a lightweight in 1940.
Robinson won 40 consecutive professional fights before losing to Jake LaMotta in one of their six battles. On December 20, 1946, he won the welterweight championship by defeating Tommy Bell in a 15-round decision. Robinson resigned his welterweight title when he won the middleweight championship by a 13-round knockout of LaMotta on February 14, 1951. He lost the 160-pound title to Randy Turpin of England in 1951 and regained it from Turpin later that year.
In 1952, he narrowly missed defeating Joey Maxim for the light-heavyweight (175-pound) crown and a few months later retired. Robinson returned to the ring in 1954. He recaptured the middleweight title from Carl (Bobo) Olson in 1955, lost it to and regained it from Gene Fullmer in 1957, and yielded it to Carmen Basilio later that year.
He won, for the last time, the 160-pound championship by defeating Basilio in a savage fight in 1958. Paul Pender defeated Robinson to win the title on January 22, 1960, and won their return fight. Robinson continued to fight until late 1965, when he was 45 years old. In 201 professional bouts, he had 109 knockouts. He suffered only 19 defeats, most of them when he was past 40. His outstanding ability and flamboyant personality made him a hero of boxing fans throughout the world.
In retirement, he appeared on television and in motion pictures. He formed a youth foundation in 1969. Sugar Ray Robinson was six times a world champion: once as a welterweight, from 1946 to 1951, and five times as a middleweight, between 1951 and 1960. He is considered by many authorities to have been the best fighter in history. He died April 12, 1989 in Culver City, Los Angeles, California.
Boxing Album: An Illustrated History
by Peter Brooke Bell
Smithmark Publisher, 1995