Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson (born Walker Smith Jr.; May 3, 1921 – April 12, 1989) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1940 to 1965. Robinson's performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.[1] He is widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, and in 2002, Robinson was ranked number one on The Ring magazine's list of "80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years".[2]

Sugar Ray Robinson
Robinson in 1947
Nickname(s)Sugar Ray
Light heavyweight
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Reach72 12 in (184 cm)
Born(1921-05-03)May 3, 1921
Ailey, Georgia, United States
DiedApril 12, 1989(1989-04-12) (aged 67)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Boxing record
Total fights202
Wins by KO108
No contests2

Robinson was 85–0 as an amateur with 69 of those victories coming by way of knockout, 40 in the first round. He turned professional in 1940 at the age of 19 and by 1951 had a professional record of 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts. From 1943 to 1951 Robinson went on a 91-fight unbeaten streak, the third-longest in professional boxing history.[3][4] Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and won the world middleweight title in the latter year. He retired in 1952, only to come back two-and-a-half years later and regain the middleweight title in 1955. He then became the first boxer in history to win a divisional world championship five times (a feat he accomplished by defeating Carmen Basilio in 1958 to regain the middleweight championship). Robinson was named "fighter of the year" twice: first for his performances in 1942, then nine years and over 90 fights later, for his efforts

Renowned for his flamboyant lifestyle outside the ring , Robinson is credited with being the originator of the modern sports "entourage". After his boxing career ended, Robinson attempted a career as an entertainer, but it was not successful. He struggled financially until his death in 1989. In 2006, he was featured on a commemorative stamp by the United States Postal Service.[5]

Early life

Robinson was born Walker Smith Jr. in Ailey, Georgia, to Walker Smith Sr. and Leila Hurst.[6] Robinson was the youngest of three children; his eldest sister Marie was born in 1917, and his other sister Evelyn in 1919. His father was a cotton, peanut, and corn farmer in Georgia, who moved the family to Detroit where he initially found work in construction.[6] According to Robinson, Smith Sr. later worked two jobs to support his family—cement mixer and sewer worker. "He had to get up at six in the morning and he'd get home close to midnight. Six days a week. The only day I really saw him was Sunday...I always wanted to be with him more."[7]

His parents separated, and he moved with his mother to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem at the age of twelve. Robinson originally aspired to be a doctor, but after dropping out of DeWitt Clinton High School in ninth grade he switched his goal to boxing.[8] When he was 15, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament but was told he needed to first obtain an AAU membership card. However, he could not procure one until he was eighteen years old. He received his name when he circumvented the AAU's age restriction by borrowing a birth certificate from his friend Ray Robinson.[9] Subsequently told that he was "sweet as sugar" by a lady in the audience at a fight in Watertown, New York, Smith Jr. became known as "Sugar" Ray Robinson.[10][11]

Robinson idolized Henry Armstrong and Joe Louis as a youth, and actually lived on the same block as Louis in Detroit when Robinson was 11 and Louis was 17.[10] Outside the ring, Robinson got into trouble frequently as a youth, and was involved with a street gang.[10] He married at 16. The couple had one son, Ronnie, and divorced when Robinson was 19.[10] He finished his amateur career with an 85–0 record with 69 knockouts–40 coming in the first round.[12] He won the Golden Gloves featherweight championship in 1939, and the organization's lightweight championship in 1940.[9]

Boxing career

Early career

Robinson made his professional debut on October 4, 1940, winning by a second-round stoppage over Joe Echevarria. Robinson fought five more times in 1940, winning each time, with four wins coming by way of knockout. In 1941, he defeated world champion Sammy Angott, future champion Marty Servo and former champion Fritzie Zivic. The Robinson-Angott fight was held above the lightweight limit, since Angott did not want to risk losing his lightweight title. Robinson defeated Zivic in front of 20,551 at Madison Square Garden—one of the largest crowds in the arena to that date.[13] Robinson won the first five rounds, according to Joseph C. Nichols of The New York Times, before Zivic came back to land several punches to Robinson's head in the sixth and seventh rounds.[13] Robinson controlled the next two rounds, and had Zivic in the ninth. After a close tenth round, Robinson was announced as the winner on all three scorecards.[13]

In 1942 Robinson knocked out Zivic in the tenth round in a January rematch. The knockout loss was only the second of Zivic's career in more than 150 fights.[14] Robinson knocked him down in the ninth and tenth rounds before the referee stopped the fight. Zivic and his corner protested the stoppage; James P. Dawson of The New York Times stated "[t]hey were criticizing a humane act. The battle had been a slaughter, for want of a more delicate word."[14] Robinson then won four consecutive bouts by knockout, before defeating Servo in a controversial split decision in their May rematch. After winning three more fights, Robinson faced Jake LaMotta, who would become one of his more prominent rivals, for the first time in October. He defeated LaMotta by a unanimous decision, although he failed to get Jake down. Robinson weighed 145 lb (66 kg) compared to 157.5 for LaMotta, but he was able to control the fight from the outside for the entire bout, and actually landed the harder punches during the fight.[15] Robinson then won four more fights, including two against Izzy Jannazzo, from October 19 to December 14. For his performances, Robinson was named "Fighter of the Year". He finished 1942 with a total of 14 wins and no losses.

Robinson built a record of 40–0 before losing for the first time to LaMotta in a 10-round re-match.[16] LaMotta, who had a 16 lb (7.3 kg) weight advantage over Robinson, knocked Robinson out of the ring in the eighth round, and won the fight by decision. The fight took place in Robinson's former home town of Detroit, and attracted a record crowd.[16] After being controlled by Robinson in the early portions of the fight, LaMotta came back to take control in the later rounds.[16] After winning the third LaMotta fight less than three weeks later, Robinson then defeated his childhood idol: former champion Henry Armstrong. Robinson fought Armstrong only because the older man was in need of money. By now Armstrong was an old fighter, and Robinson later stated that he carried the former champion.

On February 27, 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army, where he was again referred to as Walker Smith.[17] Robinson had a 15-month military career. Robinson served with Joe Louis, and the pair went on tours where they performed exhibition bouts in front of US troops. Robinson got into trouble several times while in the military. He argued with superiors who he felt were discriminatory against him, and refused to fight exhibitions when he was told African American soldiers were not allowed to watch them.[10][18] In late March 1944, Robinson was stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, waiting to ship out to Europe, where he was scheduled to perform more exhibition matches. But on March 29, Robinson disappeared from his barracks. When he woke up on April 5 in Fort Jay Hospital on Governor's Island, he had missed his sailing for Europe and was under suspicion of deserting. He himself reported falling down the stairs in his barracks on the 29th, but said that he had complete amnesia, and he could not remember any events from that moment until the 5th. According to his file, a stranger had found him in the street on April 1 and helped him to a hospital. In his examination report, a doctor at Fort Jay concluded that Robinson's version of events was sincere.[19] He was examined by military authorities, who claimed he suffered from a mental deficiency.[20] Robinson was granted an honorable discharge on June 3, 1944. He later wrote that unfair press coverage of the incident had "branded" him as a "deserter".[21] Robinson maintained his close friendship with Louis from their time in military service, and the two went into business together after the war. They planned to start a liquor distribution business in New York City, but were denied a license due to their race.[22]

Besides the loss in the LaMotta rematch, the only other mark on Robinson's record during this period was a 10-round draw against José Basora in 1945.

Welterweight champion

By 1946, Robinson had fought 75 fights to a 73–1–1 record, and beaten every top contender in the welterweight division. However, he refused to cooperate with the Mafia, which controlled much of boxing at the time, and was denied a chance to fight for the welterweight championship.[23] Robinson was finally given a chance to win a title against Tommy Bell on December 20, 1946. Robinson had already beaten once by decision in 1945. The two fought for the title vacated by Servo, who had himself lost twice to Robinson in non-title bouts. In the fight, Robinson, who only a month before had been involved in a 10-round brawl with Artie Levine, was knocked down by Bell. The fight was called a "war", but Robinson was able to pull out a close 15-round decision, winning the vacant World Welterweight title.[24]

In 1948 Robinson fought five times, but only one bout was a title defense. Among the fighters he defeated in those non-title bouts was future world champion Kid Gavilán in a close, controversial 10-round fight. Gavilán hurt Robinson several times in the fight, but Robinson controlled the final rounds with a series of jabs and left hooks.[25] In 1949, he boxed 16 times, but again only defended his title once. In that title fight, a rematch with Gavilán, Robinson again won by decision. The first half of the bout was very close, but Robinson took control in the second half. Gavilán would have to wait two more years to begin his own historic reign as welterweight champion. The only boxer to match Robinson that year was Henry Brimm, who fought him to a 10-round draw in Buffalo.

Robinson fought 19 times in 1950. He successfully defended his welterweight title for the last time against Charley Fusari. Robinson won a lopsided 15-round decision, knocking Fusari down once. Robinson donated all but $1 of his purse for the Fusari fight to cancer research.[26] In 1950 Robinson fought George Costner, who had also taken to calling himself "Sugar" and stated in the weeks leading up to the fight that he was the rightful possessor of the name. "We better touch gloves, because this is the only round", Robinson said as the fighters were introduced at the center of the ring. "Your name ain't Sugar, mine is."[27] Robinson then knocked Costner out in 2 minutes and 49 seconds.

Middleweight champion

stated in his autobiography that one of the main considerations for his move up to middleweight was the increasing difficulty he was having in making the 147 lb (67 kg) welterweight weight limit.[28] However, the move up would also prove beneficial financially, as the division then contained some of the biggest names in boxing. Vying for the Pennsylvania state middleweight title in 1950, Robinson defeated Robert Villemain. Later that year, in defense of that crown, he defeated Jose Basora, with whom he had previously drawn. Robinson's 50-second, first-round knockout of Basora set a record that would stand for 38 years. In October 1950, Robinson knocked out Bobo Olson a future middleweight title holder.

On February 14, 1951, Robinson and LaMotta met for the sixth time. The fight would become known as The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won the undisputed World Middleweight title with a 13th round technical knockout.[29] Robinson outboxed LaMotta for the first 10 rounds, then unleashed a series of savage combinations on LaMotta for three rounds,[10] finally stopping the champion for the first time in their legendary six-bout series—and dealing LaMotta his first legitimate knockout loss in 95 professional bouts.[30] LaMotta had lost by knockout to Billy Fox earlier in his career. However, that fight was later ruled to have been fixed and LaMotta was sanctioned for letting Fox win. That bout, and some of the other bouts in the six-fight Robinson-LaMotta rivalry, was depicted in the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull. "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes", LaMotta later said.[11] Robinson won five of his six bouts with LaMotta.

After winning his second world title, he embarked on a European tour which took him all over the Continent. Robinson traveled with his flamingo-pink Cadillac, which caused quite a stir in Paris,[31] and an entourage of 13 people, some included "just for laughs".[32] He was a hero in France due to his recent defeat of LaMotta—the French hated LaMotta for defeating Marcel Cerdan in 1949 and taking his championship belt (Cerdan died in a plane crash en route to a rematch with LaMotta).[10] Robinson met President of France Vincent Auriol at a ceremony attended by France's social upper crust.[33] During his fight in Berlin against Gerhard Hecht, Robinson was disqualified when he knocked his opponent with a punch to the kidney: a punch legal in the US, but not Europe.[34] The fight was later declared a no-contest. In London, Robinson lost the world middleweight title to British boxer Randolph Turpin in a sensational bout.[35] Three months later in a rematch in front of 60,000 fans at the Polo Grounds,[34] he knocked Turpin out in ten rounds to recover the title. In that bout Robinson was leading on the cards but was cut by Turpin. With the fight in jeopardy, Robinson let loose on Turpin, knocking him down, then getting him to the ropes and unleashing a series of punches that caused the referee to stop the bout.[36] Following Robinson's victory, residents of Harlem danced in the streets.[37] In 1951, Robinson was named Ring Magazine's "Fighter of the Year" for the second time.[38]

In 1952 he fought a rematch with Olson, winning by a decision. He next defeated former champion Rocky Graziano by a third-round knockout, then challenged World Light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim.[39] In the Yankee Stadium bout with Maxim, Robinson built a lead on all three judges' scorecards, but the 103 °F (39 °C) temperature in the ring took its toll.[11] The referee, Ruby Goldstein, was the first victim of the heat, and had to be replaced by referee Ray Miller. The fast-moving Robinson was the heat's next victim – at the end of round 13, he collapsed and failed to answer the bell for the next round,[11] 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.


In 1955 Robinson returned to the ring. Although he had been inactive for two and a half years, his work as a dancer kept him in peak physical condition: in his autobiography, Robinson states that in the weeks leading up to his debut for a dancing engagement in France, he ran five miles every morning, and then danced for five hours each night. Robinson even stated that the training he did in his attempts to establish a career as a dancer were harder than any he undertook during his boxing career.[40] He won five fights in 1955, before losing a decision to Ralph 'Tiger' Jones. He bounced back, however, and defeated Rocky Castellani by a split decision, then challenged Bobo Olson for the world middleweight title. He won the middleweight championship for the third time with a second-round knockout—his third victory over Olson. After his comeback performance in 1955, Robinson expected to be named fighter of the year. However, the title went to welterweight Carmen Basilio. Basilio's handlers had lobbied heavily for it on the basis that he had never won the award, and Robinson later described this as the biggest disappointment of his professional career. "I haven't forgotten it to this day, and I never will", Robinson wrote in his autobiography.[41] Robinson and Olson fought for the last time in 1956, and Robinson closed the four fight series with a fourth-round knockout.

In 1957 Robinson lost his title to Gene Fullmer. Fullmer used his aggressive, forward moving style to control Robinson, and knocked him down in the fight.[42] Robinson, however, noticed that Fullmer was vulnerable to the left hook. Fullmer headed into their May rematch as a 3–1 favorite.[43] In the first two rounds Robinson followed Fullmer around the ring, however in the third round he changed tactics and made Fullmer come to him.[43] At the start of the fourth round Robinson came out on the attack and stunned Fullmer, and when Fullmer returned with his own punches, Robinson traded with him, as opposed to clinching as he had done in their earlier fight. The fight was fairly even after four rounds.[43] But in the fifth, Robinson was able to win the title back for a fourth time by knocking out Fullmer with a lightning fast, powerful left hook.[43] Boxing critics have referred to the left-hook which knocked out Fullmer as "the perfect punch".[44] It marked the first time in 44 career fights that Fullmer had been knocked out, and when someone asked Robinson after the fight how far the left hook had travelled, Robinson replied: "I can't say. But he got the message."[43]

Later that year, he lost his title to Basilio in a rugged 15 round fight in front of 38,000 at Yankee Stadium,[45] but regained it for a record fifth time when he beat Basilio in the rematch. Robinson struggled to make weight, and had to go without food for nearly 20 hours leading up to the bout. He badly damaged Basilio's eye early the fight, and by the seventh round it was swollen shut.[46] The two judges gave the fight to Robinson by wide margins: 72–64 and 71–64. The referee scored the fight for Basilio 69–64, and was booed loudly by the crowd of 19,000 when his decision was announced.[46] The first fight won the "Fight of the Year" award from The Ring magazine for 1957 and the second fight won the "Fight of the Year" award for 1958.


Robinson knocked out Bob Young in the second round in Boston in his only fight in 1959. A year later, he defended his title against Paul Pender. Robinson entered the fight as a 5–1 favorite, but lost a split decision in front of 10,608 at Boston Garden.[47] The day before the fight Pender commented that he planned to start slowly, before coming on late. He did just that and outlasted the aging Robinson, who, despite opening a cut over Pender's eye in the eighth round, was largely ineffective in the later rounds.[47] An attempt to regain the crown for an unheard of sixth time proved beyond Robinson. Despite Robinson's efforts, Pender won by decision in that rematch. On December 3 of that year, Robinson and 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.

Robinson spent the rest of the 1960s fighting 10-round contests. In October 1961 Robinson defeated future world champion Denny Moyer by a unanimous decision. A 12–5 favorite, the 41-year-old Robinson defeated the 22-year-old Moyer by staying on the outside, rather than engaging him.[48] In their rematch four months later, Moyer defeated Robinson on points, as he pressed the action and made Robinson back up throughout the fight. Moyer won 7–3 on all three judges scorecards.[49] Robinson lost twice more in 1962, before winning six consecutive fights against mostly lesser opposition. In February 1963 Robinson lost by a unanimous decision to former world champion and fellow Hall of Famer Joey Giardello. Giardello knocked Robinson down in the fourth round, and the 43-year-old took until the count of nine to rise to his feet.[50] Robinson was also nearly knocked down in the sixth round, but was saved by the bell. He rallied in the seventh and eight rounds, before struggling in the final two.[50] He then embarked on an 18-month boxing tour of Europe.

Robinson's second no-contest bout came in September 1965 in Norfolk, Virginia in a match with an opponent who turned out to be an impostor. Boxer Neil Morrison, at the time a fugitive and accused robber, signed up for the fight as Bill Henderson, a capable club fighter. The fight was a fiasco, with Morrison being knocked down twice in the first round and once in the second before the disgusted referee, who said "Henderson put up no fight", walked out of the ring. Robinson was initially given a TKO in 1:20 of the second round after the "obviously frightened" Morrison laid himself down on the canvas. Robinson fought for the final time in November 1965. He lost by a unanimous decision to Joey Archer.[51] Famed sports author Pete Hamill mentioned that one of the saddest experiences of his life was watching Robinson lose to Archer. He was even knocked down and Hamill pointed out that Archer had no knockout punch at all; Archer admitted afterward that it was only the second time he had knocked an opponent down in his career. The crowd of 9,023 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh gave Robinson several standing ovations, even while he was being thoroughly outperformed by Archer.[51]

On November 11, 1965, Robinson announced his retirement from boxing, saying: "I hate to go too long campaigning for another chance."[52] Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 173–19–6 (2 no contests) with 108 knockouts in 200 professional bouts, ranking him among the all-time leaders in knockouts.

Professional boxing record

173 Wins (108 knockouts, 65 decisions), 19 Losses (1 knockout, 18 decisions), 6 Draws, 2 No Contests[53]
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., time Date Location Notes
Loss 173–19–6 Joey Archer UD 10 1965-11-10 Civic Arena, Pittsburgh
Win 173–18–6 Rudolph Bent KO 3 (10), 2:20 1965-10-20 Community Arena, Steubenville, Ohio
Win 172–18–6 Peter Schmidt UD 10 1965-10-01 Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Win 171–18–6 Harvey McCullough UD 10 1965-09-23 Philadelphia A.C., Philadelphia
NC 170–18–6 Neil Morrison NC 2 (10), 1:20 1965-09-15 The Arena, Norfolk, Virginia
Loss 170–18–6 Stan Harrington UD 10 1965-08-10 Hawaii International Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
Win 170–17–6 Harvey McCullough UD 10 1965-07-27 Richmond Arena, Richmond, Virginia
Loss 169–17–6 Ferd Hernández SD 10 1965-07-12 Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas
Win 169–16–6 Harvey McCullough UD 10 1965-06-24 Washington Coliseum, Washington, D.C.
Loss 168–16–6 Stan Harrington UD 10 1965-06-01 Hawaii International Center, Honolulu
Loss 168–15–6 Memo Ayón SD 10 1965-05-24 Memorial Auditorium, Tijuana
Win 168–14–6 Rocky Randell KO 3 (10) 1965-04-28 Norfolk Municipal Auditorium, Norfolk, Virginia
Win 167–14–6 Earl Bastings KO 1 (10), 2:34 1965-04-03 Sports Center, Savannah, Georgia
Win 166–14–6 Jimmy Beecham KO 2 (10), 1:48 1965-03-06 National Stadium, Kingston
Draw 165–14–6 Fabio Bettini PTS 10 1964-11-27 Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome
Win 165–14–5 Jean Beltritti PTS 10 1964-11-14 Palais des Sports, Marseille
Win 164–14–5 Jean Baptiste Rolland PTS 10 1964-11-07 Helitas Stadium, Caen
Win 163–14–5 Jackie Cailleau PTS 10 1964-10-24 Palais des Sports, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes
Win 162–14–5 Johnny Angel TKO 6 (8) 1964-10-12 Hilton Hotel (Anglo American SC), Mayfair, London
Win 161–14–5 Yoland Leveque PTS 10 1964-09-28 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Loss 160–14–5 Mick Leahy PTS 10 1964-09-03 Paisley Ice Rink, Paisley
Draw 160–13–5 Art Hernández PTS 10 1964-07-27 Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska
Win 160–13–4 Clarence Riley TKO 6 (10) 1964-07-08 Wahconah Park, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Win 159–13–4 Gaylord Barnes UD 10 1964-05-19 Portland Exposition Building, Portland, Maine
Win 158–13–4 Armand Vanucci PTS 10 1963-12-09 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Win 157–13–4 André Davier PTS 10 1963-11-29 Palais des Sports, Grenoble
Win 156–13–4 Emiel Sarens KO 8 (10) 1963-11-16 Palais des Sports, Brussels
Draw 155–13–4 Fabio Bettini PTS 10 1963-11-09 Palais des Sports, Lyon
Win 155–13–3 Armand Vanucci PTS 10 1963-10-14 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Loss 154–13–3 Joey Giardello UD 10 1963-06-24 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 154–12–3 Maurice Rolbnet KO 3 (10) 1963-05-05 Palais des Sports, Sherbrooke, Quebec
Win 153–12–3 Billy Thornton KO 3 (10) 1963-03-11 Lewiston Armory, Lewiston, Maine
Win 152–12–3 Bernie Reynolds KO 4 (10) 1963-02-25 Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo
Win 151–12–3 Ralph Dupas SD 10 1963-01-30 Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida
Win 150–12–3 Georges Estatoff TKO 6 (10) 1962-11-10 Palais des Sports, Lyon
Win 149–12–3 Diego Infantes TKO 2 (10), 1:15 1962-10-17 Stadthalle, Vienna
Loss 148–12–3 Terry Downes PTS 10 1962-09-25 Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Loss 148–11–3 Phil Moyer SD 10 1962-07-09 Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles
Win 148–10–3 Bobby Lee KO 2 (10), 2:38 1962-04-27 National Stadium, Port of Spain
Loss 147–10–3 Denny Moyer UD 10 1962-02-17 Madison Square Garden, New York City
Win 147–9–3 Wilf Greaves KO 8 (10), 0:43 1961-12-08 Civic Arena, Pittsburgh
Win 146–9–3 Al Hauser TKO 6 (10), 1:59 1961-11-20 Providence Auditorium, Providence, Rhode Island
Win 145–9–3 Denny Moyer UD 10 1961-10-21 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 144–9–3 Wilf Greaves SD 10 1961-09-25 Convention Arena, Detroit
Loss 143–9–3 Gene Fullmer UD 15 1961-03-04 Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas For NBA middleweight title
Draw 143–8–3 Gene Fullmer PTS 15 1960-12-03 Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles For NBA middleweight title
Loss 143–8–2 Paul Pender SD 15 1960-06-10 Boston Garden, Boston For The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 143–7–2 Tony Baldoni KO 1 (10), 1:40 1960-04-02 Baltimore Coliseum, Baltimore
Loss 142–7–2 Paul Pender SD 15 1960-01-22 Boston Garden, Boston Lost The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 142–6–2 Bob Young KO 2 (10), 1:18 1959-12-14 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 141–6–2 Carmen Basilio SD 15 1958-03-25 Chicago Stadium, Chicago Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1958)
Loss 140–6–2 Carmen Basilio SD 15 1957-09-23 Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Lost The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1957)
Win 140–5–2 Gene Fullmer KO 5 (15), 1:27 1957-05-01 Chicago Stadium, Chicago Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Loss 139–5–2 Gene Fullmer UD 15 1957-01-02 Madison Square Garden, New York Lost The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 139–4–2 Bob Provizzi UD 10 1956-11-10 New Haven Arena, New Haven, Connecticut
Win 138–4–2 Bobo Olson KO 4 (15), 2:51 1956-05-18 Wrigley Field, Los Angeles Retained The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 137–4–2 Bobo Olson KO 2 (15), 2:51 1955-12-09 Chicago Stadium, Chicago Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 136–4–2 Rocky Castellani SD 10 1955-07-22 Cow Palace, San Francisco
Win 135–4–2 Garth Panter UD 10 1955-05-04 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 134–4–2 Ted Olla TKO 3 (10), 2:15 1955-04-14 Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee
Win 133–4–2 Johnny Lombardo SD 10 1955-03-29 Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati
Loss 132–4–2 Ralph Jones UD 10 1955-01-19 Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Win 132–3–2 Joe Rindone KO 6 (10), 1:37 1955-01-05 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Loss 131–3–2 Joey Maxim TKO 14 (15) 1952-06-25 Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York For The Ring and lineal light heavyweight titles
Win 131–2–2 Rocky Graziano KO 3 (15), 1:53 1952-04-16 Chicago Stadium, Chicago Retained The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 130–2–2 Bobo Olson UD 15 1952-03-13 San Francisco Civic Auditorium, San Francisco Retained The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 129–2–2 Randy Turpin TKO 10 (15) 1951-09-12 Polo Grounds, New York Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Loss 128–2–2 Randy Turpin PTS 15 1951-07-10 Earls Court Arena, Kensington, London Lost The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 128–1–2 Cyrille Delannoit RTD 3 (10) 1951-07-01 Palazzetto dello Sport, Turin
NC 127–1–2 Gerhard Hecht NC 2 (10) 1951-06-24 Waldbühne, Westend, Berlin
Win 127–1–2 Jean Walzack TKO 6 (10) 1951-06-16 Palais des Sports, Liège
Win 126–1–2 Jan de Bruin TKO 8 (10) 1951-06-10 Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium
Win 125–1–2 Jean Wanes UD 10 1951-05-26 Sports Center, Zürich, Switzerland
Win 124–1–2 Kid Marcel TKO 5 (10) 1951-05-21 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Win 123–1–2 Don Ellis KO 1 (10), 1:36 1951-04-09 Municipal Auditorium, Oklahoma City
Win 122–1–2 Holly Mims UD 10 1951-04-05 Miami Stadium, Miami
Win 121–1–2 Jake LaMotta TKO 13 (15), 2:04 1951-02-14 Chicago Stadium, Chicago Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles
Win 120–1–2 Hans Stretz TKO 5 (10) 1950-12-25 Haus der Technik, Frankfurt
Win 119–1–2 Robert Villemain TKO 9 (10) 1950-12-22 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Win 118–1–2 Jean Walzack UD 10) 1950-12-16 Pavillon des Sports, Geneva
Win 117–1–2 Luc van Dam KO 4 (10) 1950-12-09 Palais des Sports, Brussels
Win 116–1–2 Jean Stock TKO 2 (10) 1950-11-27 Palais des Sports, Paris, France
Win 115–1–2 Bobby Dykes MD 10 1950-11-08 Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Win 114–1–2 Bobo Olson KO 12 (15), 1:19 1950-10-26 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 113–1–2 Joe Rindone TKO 6 (10), 0:55 1950-10-16 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 112–1–2 Billy Brown UD 10 1950-09-04 Coney Island Velodrome, Brooklyn, New York
Win 111–1–2 José Basora KO 1 (15), 0:55 1950-08-25 Scranton Stadium, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Win 110–1–2 Charley Fusari PTS 15 1950-08-09 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey Retained The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Win 109–1–2 Robert Villemain UD 15 1950-06-05 Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia
Win 108–1–2 Ray Barnes UD 10 1950-04-28 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 107–1–2 Cliff Beckett TKO 3 (10), 1:45 1950-04-21 Memorial Hall, Columbus, Ohio
Win 106–1–2 George Costner KO 1 (10), 2:49 1950-03-22 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 105–1–2 Jean Walzack UD 10 1950-02-27 St. Louis Arena, St. Louis
Win 104–1–2 Aaron Wade KO 3 (10) 1950-02-22 Municipal Auditorium, Savannah, Georgia
Win 103–1–2 Al Mobley TKO 6 (10) 1950-02-13 Coliseum Arena, Miami
Win 102–1–2 George LaRover TKO 4 (10) 1950-01-30 New Haven Arena, New Haven, Connecticut
Win 101–1–2 Vern Lester KO 5 (10), 0:12 1949-11-13 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans
Win 100–1–2 Don Lee UD 10 1949-11-09 Denver Auditorium Arena, Denver
Win 99–1–2 Charley Dodson KO 3 (10), 0:20 1949-09-12 City Auditorium, Houston
Win 98–1–2 Benny Evans KO 5 (10), 2:56 1949-09-09 Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska
Win 97–1–2 Steve Belloise TKO 7 (10) 1949-08-24 Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win 96–1–2 Kid Gavilán UD 15 1949-07-11 Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia Retained The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Win 95–1–2 Cecil Hudson KO 5 (10) 1949-06-20 Rhode Island Auditorium, Providence, Rhode Island
Win 94–1–2 Freddie Flores TKO 3 (10), 2:41 1949-06-07 Page Arena, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Win 93–1–2 Earl Turner TKO 8 (10), 1:51 1949-04-20 Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, California
Win 92–1–2 Don Lee UD 10 1949-04-11 Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska
Win 91–1–2 Bobby Lee UD 10 1949-03-25 Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Draw 90–1–2 Henry Brimm PTS 10 1949-02-15 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Win 90–1–1 Young Gene Buffalo KO 1 (10) 1949-02-10 West Side Armory, Kingston, Pennsylvania
Win 89–1–1 Bobby Lee UD 10 1948-11-15 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 88–1–1 Kid Gavilán UD 10 1948-09-23 Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win 87–1–1 Bernard Docusen UD 15 1948-06-28 Comiskey Park, Chicago Retained The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Win 86–1–1 Henry Brimm UD 10 1948-03-16 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Win 85–1–1 Ossie Harris UD 10 1948-03-04 Toledo Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio
Win 84–1–1 Chuck Taylor TKO 6 (15), 2:07 1947-12-19 Olympia Stadium, Detroit Retained The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Win 83–1–1 Billy Nixon TKO 6 (10), 2:10 1947-12-10 Elizabeth Armory, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win 82–1–1 California Jackie Wilson TKO 7 (10), 1:35 1947-10-28 Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles
Win 81–1–1 Flashy Sebastian KO 1 (10), 1:02 1947-08-29 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 80–1–1 Sammy Secreet KO 1 (10), 1:02 1947-08-21 Rubber Bowl, Akron, Ohio
Win 79–1–1 Jimmy Doyle TKO 8 (15), 1:02 1947-06-24 Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio Retained The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Doyle died as a result of injuries sustained during the fight.
Win 78–1–1 Georgie Abrams SD 10 1947-05-16 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 77–1–1 Eddie Finazzo TKO 4 (10), 2:30 1947-04-08 Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Kansas
Win 76–1–1 Freddie Wilson KO 3 (10) 1947-04-03 Akron Armory, Akron, Ohio
Win 75–1–1 Bernie Miller TKO 3 (10), 1:32 1947-03-27 Dorsey Park, Miami
Win 74–1–1 Tommy Bell UD 15 1946-12-20 Madison Square Garden, New York Won vacant NBA, The Ring, and lineal welterweight titles
Win 73–1–1 Artie Levine KO 10 (10), 2:41 1946-11-06 Cleveland Arena, Cleveland
Win 72–1–1 Cecil Hudson KO 6 (10), 2:58 1946-11-01 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 71–1–1 Ossie Harris PTS 10 1946-10-07 Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh
Win 70–1–1 Sidney Miller KO 3 (10), 1:52 1946-09-25 Twin City Bowl, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win 69–1–1 Vinnie Vines KO 6 (10), 2:46 1946-08-15 Hawkins Stadium, Albany, New York
Win 68–1–1 Joe Curcio KO 2 (10), 0:10 1946-07-12 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 67–1–1 Norman Rubio PTS 10 1946-06-25 Roosevelt Stadium, Union City, New Jersey
Win 66–1–1 Freddie Wilson KO 2 (10), 2:00 1946-06-12 Worcester Auditorium, Worcester, Massachusetts
Win 65–1–1 Freddie Flores KO 5 (10), 2:52 1946-03-21 Golden Gate Arena, New York, New York
Win 64–1–1 Izzy Jannazzo UD 10 1946-03-14 Fifth Regiment Armory, Baltimore
Win 63–1–1 Sammy Angott UD 10 1946-03-04 Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh
Win 62–1–1 Cliff Beckett KO 4 (10) 1946-02-27 Saint Louis Arena, Saint Louis
Win 61–1–1 O'Neill Bell KO 2 (10), 1:01 1946-02-15 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 60–1–1 Tony Riccio TKO 4 (10), 2:16 1946-02-05 Elizabeth Armory, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win 59–1–1 Dave Clark TKO 2 (10), 2:22 1946-01-14 Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh
Win 58–1–1 Vic Dellicurti UD 10 1945-12-04 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 57–1–1 Jake LaMotta SD 12 1945-09-26 Comiskey Park, Chicago
Win 56–1–1 Jimmy Mandell TKO 5 (10), 1:31 1945-09-18 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Win 55–1–1 Jimmy McDaniels TKO 2 (10), 1:23 1945-06-15 Madison Square Garden, New York
Draw 54–1–1 José Basora PTS 10 1945-05-14 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 54–1 Jake LaMotta UD 10 1945-02-23 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 53–1 George Costner KO 1 (10), 2:55 1945-02-14 Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Win 52–1 Tommy Bell UD 10 1945-01-16 Cleveland Arena, Cleveland
Win 51–1 Billy Furrone TKO 2 (10), 2:28 1945-01-10 Uline Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win 50–1 George Martin TKO 8 (10) 1944-12-22 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 49–1 Sheik Rangel TKO 2 (10), 2:50 1944-12-12 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 48–1 Vic Dellicurti UD 10 1944-11-24 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 47–1 Lou Woods TKO 9 (10) 1944-10-27 Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Win 46–1 Izzy Jannazzo TKO 2 (10), 1:10 1944-10-13 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 45–1 Henry Armstrong UD 10 1943-08-27 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 44–1 Ralph Zannelli UD 10 1943-07-01 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 43–1 Freddie Cabral KO 1 (10), 2:20 1943-04-30 Boston Garden, Boston
Win 42–1 Jake LaMotta UD 10 1943-02-26 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 41–1 California Jackie Wilson MD 10 1943-02-19 Madison Square Garden, New York
Loss 40–1 Jake LaMotta UD 10 1943-02-05 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 40–0 Al Nettlow TKO 3 (10) 1942-12-14 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 39–0 Izzy Jannazzo TKO 8 (10), 2:43 1942-12-01 Cleveland Arena, Cleveland
Win 38–0 Vic Dellicurti UD 10 1942-11-06 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 37–0 Izzy Jannazzo UD 10 1942-10-19 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 36–0 Jake LaMotta UD 10 1942-10-02 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 35–0 Tony Motisi KO 1 (10), 2:41 1942-08-27 Comiskey Park, Chicago
Win 34–0 Reuben Shank KO 2 (10), 2:26 1942-08-21 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 33–0 Sammy Angott UD 10 1942-07-31 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 32–0 Marty Servo SD 10 1942-05-28 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 31–0 Dick Banner KO 2 (10) 1942-04-30 Minneapolis Armory, Minneapolis
Win 30–0 Harvey Dubs TKO 6 (10) 1942-04-17 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 29–0 Norman Rubio TKO 8 (12) 1942-03-20 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 28–0 Maxie Berger TKO 2 (12), 1:43 1942-02-20 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 27–0 Fritzie Zivic TKO 10 (12), 0:31 1942-01-16 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 26–0 Fritzie Zivic UD 10 1941-10-31 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 25–0 Marty Servo UD 10 1941-09-25 Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 24–0 Maxie Shapiro TKO 3 (10), 2:04 1941-09-19 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 23–0 Maurice Arnault TKO 1 (8), 1:29 1941-08-29 Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 22–0 Carl Guggino TKO 3 (8), 2:47 1941-08-27 Queensboro Arena, Queens, New York
Win 21–0 Sammy Angott UD 10 1941-07-21 Shibe Park, Philadelphia Angott's World Lightweight title was not on the line.
Win 20–0 Pete Lello TKO 4 (8), 1:48 1941-07-02 Polo Grounds, New York City
Win 19–0 Mike Evans KO 2 (8), 0:52 1941-06-16 Shibe Park, Philadelphia
Win 18–0 Nick Castiglione KO 1 (10), 1:21 1941-05-19 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 17–0 Victor Troise TKO 1 (8), 2:39 1941-05-10 Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York
Win 16–0 Joe Ghnouly TKO 3 (8), 2:07 1941-04-30 Uline Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win 15–0 Charley Burns KO 1 (10) 1941-04-24 Waltz Dream Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 14–0 Jimmy Tygh TKO 1 (10), 1:51 1941-04-14 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 13–0 Jimmy Tygh KO 8 (10), 1:13 1941-03-03 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 12–0 Gene Spencer TKO 5 (6) 1941-02-27 Olympia Stadium, Detroit
Win 11–0 Bobby McIntire UD 6 1941-02-21 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 10–0 Benny Cartagena KO 1 (6), 1:33 1941-02-08 Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York
Win 9–0 George Zengaras PTS 6 1941-01-31 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 8–0 Frankie Wallace TKO 1 (6), 2:10 1941-01-13 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 7–0 Harry LaBarba KO 1 (6), 0:40 1941-01-04 Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York
Win 6–0 Oliver White TKO 3 (4) 1940-12-13 Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 5–0 Norment Quarles TKO 4 (8), 0:56 1940-12-09 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 4–0 Bobby Woods KO 1 (6), 1:31 1940-11-11 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia
Win 3–0 Mitsos Grispos UD 6 1940-10-22 New York Coliseum, Bronx, New York
Win 2–0 Silent Stafford TKO 2 (4) 1940-10-08 Municipal Auditorium, Savannah, Georgia
Win 1–0 Joe Echevarria TKO 2 (4), 0:51 1940-10-04 Madison Square Garden, New York Professional Debut

Boxing world titles

World titles
Preceded by
Marty Servo
World Welterweight champion
December 20, 1946 – December 25, 1950
Title next held by
Kid Gavilán
Preceded by
Jake LaMotta
World Middleweight champion
January 14, 1951 – July 10, 1951
Succeeded by
Randy Turpin
Preceded by
Randy Turpin
World Middleweight champion
September 12, 1951 – December 1952
Title next held by
Carl Olson
Preceded by
Carl Olson
World Middleweight champion
May 18, 1956 – January 2, 1957
Succeeded by
Gene Fullmer
Preceded by
Gene Fullmer
World Middleweight champion
May 1, 1957 – September 23, 1957
Succeeded by
Carmen Basilio
Preceded by
Carmen Basilio
NBA Middleweight champion
March 25, 1958 – 1959
Title next held by
Gene Fullmer
World Middleweight champion
March 25, 1958 – January 2, 1960
Succeeded by
Paul Pender

Later life

In his autobiography, Robinson states that by 1965 he was broke, having spent all of the $4 million in earnings he made inside and out of the ring during his career.[54] A month after his last fight, Robinson was honored with a Sugar Ray Robinson Night on December 10, 1965, in New York's Madison Square Garden. During the ceremony, he was honored with a massive trophy. However, there was not a piece of furniture in his small Manhattan apartment with legs strong enough to support it. Robinson was elected to the Ring Magazine boxing Hall of Fame in 1967, two years after he retired and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. In the late 1960s he acted in some television shows, like Mission: Impossible. An episode of Land of the Giants called "Giants and All That Jazz" had Sugar as a washed up boxer opening a nightclub.[55] He also appeared in a few films including the Frank Sinatra cop movie The Detective (1968), the cult classic Candy (1968), and the thriller The Todd Killings (1971) as a police officer. In 1969, he founded the Sugar Ray Robinson Youth Foundation for the inner-city Los Angeles area. The foundation does not sponsor a boxing program.[56] He was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus that was treated with insulin.[57]


In Robinson’s last years he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.[57] He died in Los Angeles on 12 April 1989 at the age of 67. His body was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.[58]

Personal life

Robinson married Marjorie Joseph in 1938; the marriage was annulled the same year. Their son, Ronnie Smith, was born in 1939. Robinson met his second wife Edna Mae Holly, a noted dancer who performed at the Cotton Club and toured Europe with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, in 1940.[59] According to Robinson, he met her at a local pool he frequented after his boxing workouts. In an attempt to get her attention he pushed her into the pool one day, and claimed it was an accident.[60] After this attempt was met with disdain, he appeared at the nightclub she danced at and introduced himself. Soon the couple were dating and they married in 1943. They had one son, Ray Robinson Jr. (born 1949) and divorced in 1960.[59] She appeared on the first cover of Jet magazine in 1951.[61] In April 1959 Robinson's eldest sister, Marie, died of cancer at the age of 41.[62]

In 1965, Robinson married Millie Wiggins Bruce and the couple settled in Los Angeles.[34] When Robinson was sick with his various ailments, his son accused the elder Robinson's wife of keeping him under the influence of medication to manipulate him. According to Ray Robinson Jr., when Robinson Sr's mother died, he could not attend his mother's funeral because Millie was drugging and controlling him.[63] However, Robinson had been hospitalized the day before his mother's death due to agitation which caused his blood pressure to rise. Robinson Jr. and Edna Mae also claimed that they were kept away from Robinson by Millie during the last years of his life.[63]

Robinson was a Freemason, a membership shared with a number of other athletes, including fellow boxer Jack Dempsey.[64][65] Robinson guest starred in Season 2, Episode 6 of Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants.

Boxing style

Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm or you're in trouble.

Ray Robinson[66]

Robinson was the modern definition of a boxer puncher. He was able to fight almost any style: he could come out one round brawling, the next counterpunching, and the next fighting on the outside flicking his jab. Robinson would use his formless style to exploit his opponents' weaknesses. He also possessed great speed and precision. He fought in a very conventional way with a firm jab, but threw hooks and uppercuts in flurries in an unconventional way.[67] He possessed tremendous versatility—according to boxing analyst Bert Sugar, "Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward."[68] Robinson was efficient with both hands, and he displayed a variety of effective punches—according to a TIME magazine article in 1951, "Robinson's repertoire, thrown with equal speed and power by either hand, includes every standard punch from a bolo to a hook—and a few he makes up on the spur of the moment."[10] Robinson commented that once a fighter has trained to a certain level, their techniques and responses become almost reflexive. "You don't think. It's all instinct. If you stop to think, you're gone."[69]

Jimmy Doyle incident

In June 1947, during his welterweight period, after four non-title bouts, Robinson was scheduled to defend his title for the first time in a bout against Jimmy Doyle. Robinson initially backed out of the fight because he had a dream that he was going to kill Doyle. A priest and a minister convinced him to fight. Sadly, his dream was tragically proved to be true.[70][71] On June 25, 1947 Robinson dominated Doyle and scored a decisive knockout in the eighth round that knocked Doyle unconscious and resulted in Doyle's death later that night.[34] Robinson said that the impact of Doyle's death was "very trying".[upper-alpha 1]

After his death, criminal charges were threatened against Robinson in Cleveland, up to and including murder, though none actually materialized. After learning of Doyle's intentions of using the bout's money to buy his mother a house, Robinson gave Doyle's mother the money from his next four bouts so she could purchase herself a home, fulfilling her son's intention.[72][73]


Robinson has been ranked as the greatest boxer of all time by sportswriters, fellow boxers, and trainers.[9][74][75] The phrase "pound for pound", was created by sportswriters for him during his career as a way to compare boxers irrespective of weight.[11][27] Hall of Fame fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Roberto Durán and Sugar Ray Leonard have ranked Robinson as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in history.[68][76][77] In 1997, The Ring ranked him as the best pound-for-pound fighter in history,[11] and in 1999 he was named "welterweight of the century", "middleweight of the century", and overall "fighter of the century" by the Associated Press.[78] In 2007 featured the piece "50 Greatest Boxers of All Time", in which it named Robinson the top boxer in history.[74] In 2003, The Ring magazine ranked him number 11 in the list of all-time greatest punchers.[79] Robinson was also ranked as the #1 welterweight and the #1 pound-for-pound boxer of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization.[80] He was inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame at its inception in 1992.[81]

Robinson was one of the first African Americans to establish himself as a star outside sports. He was an integral part of the New York social scene in the 1940s and 1950s.[11] His glamorous restaurant, Sugar Ray's, hosted stars such as Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Nat King Cole, Joe Louis, and Lena Horne among others.[82][83] Robinson was known as a flamboyant personality outside the ring. He combined striking good looks[84] with charisma and a flair for the dramatic. He drove a flamingo-pink Cadillac, and was an accomplished singer and dancer, who once pursued a career in the entertainment industry.[85] According to's Ron Flatter: "He was the pioneer of boxing's bigger-than-life entourages, including a secretary, barber, masseur, voice coach, a coterie of trainers, beautiful women, a dwarf mascot and lifelong manager George Gainford."[11] When Robinson first traveled to Paris, a steward referred to his companions as his "entourage". Although Robinson said he did not like the word's literal definition of "attendants", since he felt they were his friends, he liked the word itself and began to use it in regular conversation when referring to them.[86] In 1962, in an effort to persuade Robinson to return to Paris—where he was still a national hero—the French promised to bring over his masseur, his hairdresser, a man who would whistle while he trained, and his trademark Cadillac.[87] This larger-than-life persona made him the idol of millions of African American youths in the 1950s. Robinson inspired several other fighters who took the nickname "Sugar" in homage to him such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Shane Mosley, and MMA fighter "Suga" Rashad Evans.[88][89][90]

See also


  1. Before that fight, Robinson had a dream that he was going to accidentally kill Doyle in the ring. As a result, he decided to pull out of the fight. However, a priest and a minister convinced him to go ahead with the bout."Sugar Ray Robinson – Dreams Come True". YouTube. Retrieved March 3, 2013.


  1. Sugar Ray Robinson. International Boxing Hall of Fame.
  2. Andrew Eisele. "Ring Magazine's 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years". Sports.
  3. "Sugar Ray Robinson's record". at Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  4. Jackson, Ron. "Most consecutive unbeaten streak". Archived from the original on April 6, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  5. United States Postal Service Stamp Announcements
  6. Robinson and Anderson, p. 7.
  7. Robinson and Anderson, pp. 8–9.
  8. Robinson and Anderson, p. 5.
  9. Sugar Ray Robinson Returns to the Ring to a 'Stamping Ovation' of 100 Million Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine,, April 7, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
  10. Businessman Boxer, Time, June 25, 1951, available online via Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  11. Flatter, Ron. The sugar in the sweet science, ESPN. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  12. Schwartz, Larry. " "A brooding genius"". ESPN. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  13. Nichols, Joseph C.Harlem Fighter Still Unbeaten, The New York Times, November 1, 1941. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  14. Dawson, James P. Robinson Knocks Out Zivic in Tenth Round to Score 27th Victory in Row, The New York Times, January 17, 1942. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  15. Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Takes Unanimous Decision Over La Motta in Garden 10-Round Bout,The New York Times, October 3, 1942. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  16. Associated Press. Robinson's Streak Ended by LaMotta, The New York Times, February 6, 1943. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  17. Robinson and Anderson, p. 110.
  18. Robinson and Anderson, pp. 120–129.
  19. Robinson and Anderson, pp. 126–130.
  20. Ray Robinson, Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  21. Robinson and Anderson, p. 130.
  22. Boyd and Robinson II. pp. 94
  23. Sugar: Too sweet for Raging Bull, BBC, July 13, 2001. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  24. "The Lineal Welterwweight Champs". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  25. Boyd and Robinson II. p. 93
  26. Boyd and Robinson II. pp. 105–06
  27. Anderson, Dave. Sports of the Times; The Original Sugar Ray 'Never Lost', The New York Times, April 13, 1989. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
  28. Robinson and Anderson, p. 165.
  29. "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  30. Jake LaMotta, Retrieved June 6, 2007. Archived April 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  31. Robinson and Anderson, pp. 187–88.
  32. Dethroned in London, The New York Times, July 15, 1951. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  33. Sugar Ray Gives Mme. Auriol Kiss; Boxer as Cancer Fund 'Envoy,' Busses French Chief's Wife Twice on Each Cheek, The New York Times, May 17, 1951. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  34. Sugar Ray Robinson, Contemporary Black Biography, The Gale Group, 2006 ISBN 0-7876-7927-5, available online via Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  35. Sugar's Lumps, Time, July 23, 1951, available online at Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  36. Daley, Arthur. Sports of The Times; For the Championship, The New York Times, September 12, 1951. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  37. Harlem Hails Robinson; More Than 10,000 Cheer Verdict, Sing and Dance in Street, The New York Times, September 13, 1951. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  38. Sugar Ray Robinson Named Fighter Of Year, St. Petersburg Times, December 27, 1951. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  39. "The Lineal Light Heavyweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  40. Robinson and Anderson. p. 227
  41. Robinson and Anderson. p. 266
  42. Nichols, Joseph C. Utah 160-Pounder to Defend Crown, The New York Times, May 1, 1957. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  43. Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Knocks Out Fullmer in Fifth Round to Regain Middleweight Crown, The New York Times, May 2, 1957. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  44. Fitzgerald and Hudson. p. 40
    *Gene Fullmer, Retrieved June 6, 2007. Archived December 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  45. Basilio Takes Title By Beating Robinson, The New York Times, September 24, 1957. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  46. Nichols, Joseph C. Robinson Outpoints Basilio and Wins World Middleweight Title Fifth Time.The New York Times, March 26, 1958. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  47. nichols, Joseph C. 5–1 Choice Loses A Split Decision, The New York Times, January 23, 1960. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  48. Conkilin, William R. Robinson Beats Moyer in Ten-Rounder Here, The New York Times, October 22, 1961. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  49. Teague, Robert L. Denny Moyer Defeats Robinson, The New York Times, February 18, 1962. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  50. Left Hook Floors Sugar Ray in 4th, The New York Times, June 25, 1963. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  51. Associated Press. Robinson Beaten in Archer Fight, The New York Times, November 11, 1965. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  52. Associated Press. Robinson Declares Bout With Archer Was His Last Fight, The New York Times, November 12, 1965. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  53. "Sugar Ray Robinson – Boxer". Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  54. Robinson and Anderson, p. 4.
  55. Mission Impossible Archived October 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  56. Wiley. p. 223
  57. Pace, Frank. Keeping Pace with Sugar Ray Robinson Archived May 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, LA Sports Magazine, August 1976, available online via Retrieved June 5, 2007.
  58. Entry for Robinson in Findagrave website (2019).
  59. Edna Mae Robinson, ex-wife of boxing champ Sugar Ray Robinson, dies Archived October 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, JET, May 27, 2002, available online via Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  60. Robinson and Anderson, pp. 91–2.
  61. Chenault. p. 31
  62. Ray Robinson's' Sister Dies, The New York Times, April 21, 1959. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  63. Wiley. p. 221
  64. "Famous Free Masons: Athletes". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  65. "Well Known Freemasons". Grand Lodge of British Columbia A.F. & A. M. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  66. Robinson and Anderson, p. 75.
  67. Boyd and Robinson II. p. 271
  68. Sugar Ray Robinson quotes, Retrieved June 6, 2007. Archived October 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  69. Hauser. p. 29
  70. "Sugar Ray Robinson – Dreams Come True". YouTube. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  71. Nat Fleischer, in The Ring, September 1947, "Sugar Ray Robinson backed out of the fight because he had a dream that he killed him: well his dream came true", page 4
  72. Robinson's biographer Wil Haygood stated during a September 25, 2010 book festival appearance that Doyle was pushing himself to fight to "buy his mother a house" and after Doyle's death in 1947, Robinson gave the earnings of his next four fights to Doyle's mother, so she could buy that house."
  73. Wil Haygood, Book TV, September 2010
  74. Mulvaney, Kieran. Who's the Greatest?, ESPN. Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  75. Sugar Ray Bio Archived November 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved June 4, 2007.
    *Review Joe and Teddy Pick Their Top Fighters, Retrieved June 4, 2007.
    * Smith, Michael David. ESPN Greatest Boxers List: Sugar Ray Robinson No. 1 Archived June 3, 2012, at,, May 13, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
    * Wiley. p. 226
    *Anderson, Dave. Sugar Ray Robinson, Boxing's 'Best,' Is Dead, The New York Times, April 13, 1989. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
    * Trickett, Alex, and Dirs, Ben. Who is the greatest of them all?,, June 13, 2005. Retrieved June 6, 2007."Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 4, 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  76. Kehoe, Patrick. Ray Robinson: The champions' champion Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  77. Hauser. p. 212
  78. Associated Press. Sugar Ray named century's best, ESPN, December 8, 1999. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  79. Ring Magazine's 100 Greatest Punchers, The Ring, (2003), available online at Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  80. "IBRO Rankings". Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  81. "Madison Square Garden Gets Walk Of Fame". The Seattle Times. Seattle, WA. Associated Press. September 12, 1992. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  82. Boyd and Robinson II. p. 105
  83. Kilgannon, Corey. Sugar Ray's Harlem: Back in the Day, The New York Times, November 25, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  84. Goldman, Albert. Sugar Ray: Is He a Black Gable?, The New York Times, October 8, 1968. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
    * Sammons. p. xii
    *The Man Who Comes Back, TIME, April 7, 1958, available via Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  85. Fitzgerald and Hudson. pp. 205–06
  86. Robinson and Anderson, p. 169.
  87. Daley, Robert. Sugar Ray Is Still Young in Paris; Age Hasn't Dimmed Robinson's Skills in Frenchmen's Eyes, The New York Times, May 13, 1962. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  88. Anderson, Dave For Some People there is only One Sugar Ray, The New York Times, reprinted in The Miami News, June 18, 1980. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  89. Schuyler, Ed. Article: Sugar Shane wants to look sweet for Sugar Ray, Associated Press online, September 21, 1998. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  90. Iole, Kevin. Few pegged Rashad Evans' main-event status,, September 6, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2010.


  • Boyd, Herb, and Robinson, Ray II. Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson, New York: HarperCollins, 2005 ISBN 0-06-018876-6
  • Chenault, Julie. Edna Mae Robinson Still Looking Good in Her Mink. Jet, Johnson Publishing Company November 5, 1981 issue ISSN 0021-5996 (available online)
  • Donelson, Thomas, and Lotierzo, Frank. Viewing Boxing from Ringside, Lincoln: iUniverse, 2002 ISBN 0-595-23748-7
  • Fitzgerald, Mike H., and Hudson, Dabid L. Boxing's Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Champs, Chumps and Punch-drunk Palookas, Virginia: Brassey's, 2004 ISBN 1-57488-714-9
  • Hauser, Thomas. The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing, Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000 ISBN 1-55728-597-7
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