Lee Wylie offers and insightful analysis of The Genius of “Sugar” Ray Robinson in two of his most famous moments in the ring: his KO's of Rocky Graziano and Gene Fullman.
Born on May 3, 1921 his real name was Walker Smith Jr. Robinson. He made his professional debut on October 4, 1940. Robinson fought for the first time for a world title against Tommy Bell on December 20, 1946. The fight was called a “war,” but Robinson was able to pull out a close 15 round decision, and won the vacant welterweight title. He successfully defended his title four times, although he fought and won many more matches without the title being on the line. Ray Robinson moved up to middleweight in 1950 and won the world title in this division in 1951 against Jake LaMotta. Robinson lost his title later that year to Randy Turpin and won it back just two months later, beating Turpin in a 10R TKO. Sugar Ray Robinson then challenged world light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim and they had their bout in the Yankee Stadium in June 25th, 1952, Robinson built a lead on all three judges' scorecards, but the 103 °F (39 °C) temperature in the ring took its toll, at the end of round 13, he collapsed and failed to answer the bell for the next round, suffering the only knockout of his career.
On June 25, 1952 after the Maxim bout, Robinson gave up his title and retired with a record of 131-3-1-1. He began a career in show business, singing and tap dancing. After about three years, the decline of his businesses and the lack of success in his performing career made him decide to return to boxing. He resumed training in 1954 and was back in the ring at the beginning of 1955; at the end of that same year Robinson won the world middleweight title from Bobo Olson. In January of 1957, Robinson lost his title to Gene Fullmer. The two met again four months later and this time Robinson was able to win the title back, by knocking out Fullmer with a fast, powerful left hook. Boxing critics have referred to this left-hook as “the perfect punch”. He lost the title to Camen Basilio on September of 1957, but once again won it back in a rematch with Basilio in March of 1958. He defended his title and lost it in split decision to Paul Pender in 1960. An attempt to regain the crown for an unheard sixth time proved beyond Robinson, Pender won by decision in that rematch. On December 3, 1960, Robinson and Gene Fullmer fought a 15-round draw for the WBA middleweight title, which Fullmer retained. In 1961, Robinson and Fullmer fought for a fourth time, with Fullmer retaining the WBA middleweight title by a unanimous decision. The fight would be Robinson's last title bout. He continued to fight for the next few years, and on November 11, 1965, Robinson announced his retirement from boxing, saying: “I hate to go too long campaigning for another chance.
Robinson beat sixteen former, reigning, or future world champions during his professional career.
Sugar Ray Robinson is frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time
Total fights 200
Wins by KO 108
No contests 2