Story of the Week
"SUGAR RAY" ROBINSON
In a career that spanned three decades, "Sugar Ray" Robinson embodied the essence of the science of boxing. He was world welterweight champion once, and held the middleweight title five times. Robinson combined grace and power, and was virtually unbeatable in his prime.
He is considered by many to be the best fighter in history, pound-for-pound; I agree. He earned the nickname "Sugar Ray" when a sports reporter once described him as being "sweet as sugar."
Robinson won Golden Gloves titles in 1939 and 1940. He won 89 amateur bouts without defeat. Ray turned pro in 1940, and won his first 40 fights before losing to the "Raging Bull", Jake LaMotta. After that defeat, Robinson wouldn’t lose for another eight years. In 1946, in his 76th. pro fight, he defeated Tommy Bell for the vacant welterweight title; that crown was long overdue and richly earned.
In 1951, he challenged LaMotta for the middleweight championship in a fight that is remembered as the "St. Valentine’s Day Massacre." Robinson overwhelmed LaMotta with speed and power, and finally stopped him in the 13th. round on a technical knockout. It was the sixth and final time these two great fighters would meet; Robinson won five of those contests.
Also in 1951, he was upset by British champion Randy Turpin, knocked Turpin out in the rematch two months later, and followed with successful defenses of his title against Rocky Graziano and Carl "Bobo" Olson. He then challenged Joey Maxim for the light heavyweight championship.
Robinson and Maxim met in Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1952. The temperature that night was 100 degrees. It was the heat, and not Maxim, that overcame "Sugar Ray". After 13 rounds, he led in points on all three scorecards, but could not answer the bell for round 14. It was the only fight of his career in which he failed to go the distance in defeat.
Robinson retired after that fight only to return in 1955 at age 34. He would win and lose the middleweight title three more times in a series of bouts with Olson, Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio. He finally retired for good in 1965 at the veteran age of 44.
He fought 18 world champions during his great career. He won 175 pro fights. Of his 19 pro defeats, 16 took place after 1955, after age 34. I’ve never seen a better fighter than "Sugar Ray" Robinson.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only player in NFL history to play on three consecutive Super Bowl winning teams?
Ken Norton, Jr. played for Dallas in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII, and for San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIX.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the only pro basketball coach to win league championships in the ABL, the ABA, and the NBA?See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.