Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson was born on May 3, 1921 as Walker Smith Jr., in Detroit Michigan, but also grew up in Harlem. His parents divorced when he was five years old and moved to New York City with his mother. Smith Jr. helped his mother finically by doing odd jobs and dancing outside Broadway Theaters in order to gain money. Soon after he moved to Harlem and made friends with Warren Jones, who invited Smith to join his Uncles gym. Warrens Uncle, George Gainford, eventually became his trainer. Gainford introduced Smith to bootleg boxing matches, where he eventually started fighting in them. In order to fight you need an identity card, which Smith did not have. Fortunately Gainford had his friends, Ray Robinson’s card. He was able to use it and his style of fighting was named “sweet as sugar” eventually giving him the name Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson made himself known in 1940 by knocking out Jose Echevarria in two rounds. In 1947, Robinson fought four non-title bouts before defending his title for the first time on June 24 by knocking out Jimmy Doyle in the eighth round. Before the fight, Robinson had a dream he would kill his opponent with a left hook which made him want to back out of the fight. With a long talk by a priest, Robinson went on with the fight. His opponent eventually died from injuries received in the fight. His death took and emotional toll on Robinson. In 1948, Robinson fought 5 times, one of which was for a title defense. In 1949 Robinson fought 13 times which was to defend his title once again. One of these matches was against Henry Brimm, who eventually brought the fight to a draw in the 10th round. In 1950 he fought 19 times which brought his career to a retirement until he eventually made a comeback in 1955. A portion of his earnings from his fights during his comeback went to the IRS forcing him to continue boxing. Robinson’s career began to decline in 1959 when he was stripped of his title by Bob Young. Robinson went into retirement in the 60’s making over $4 million dollars in his career. He was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eventually dying at the age of 67 in Los Angeles. Sugar Ray Robinson was considered one of the best Welterweight Champions of all time. His legacy and style of fighting will always be remembered.

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