- NAME: Sugar Ray Robinson
- OCCUPATION: Boxer
- BIRTH DATE: May 03, 1921
- DEATH DATE: April 12, 1989
- Did You Know?: As a boy growing up in Detroit, Sugar Ray Robinson was neighbors with heavyweight champion Joe Louis.
- Did You Know?: Sugar Ray Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and by 1958, he had become the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times.
- Did You Know?: Sugar Ray Robinson's birth name was Walker Smith Jr. He became known as Sugar Ray Robinson as an under-aged boxer, after using a fellow boxer's Amateur Athletic Union card to fight in a show.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Detroit, Michigan
- PLACE OF DEATH: Culver City, California
- Full Name: Walker Smith Jr.
- AKA: Walker Smith
- Nickname: Sugar Ray Robinson
- Nickname: Sugar
- AKA: Ray Robinson
Best Known For
Considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and by 1958, he had become the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times.
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Considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson was born in Michigan in 1921. He turned pro in 1940 and won his first 40 fights. Over his 25-year career, Robinson won the world welterweight and middleweight crowns and was dubbed "pound for pound, the best." By 1958, he had become the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times. He finished his career in 1965 with 175 victories. Robinson died in Culver City, California, in 1989.
"To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will."
Sugar Ray Robinson, whose birth name was Walker Smith Jr., was born on May 3, 1921, in Detroit, Michigan. Robinson was 11 years old when his mother, tired of her husband's absence from the family's life, up and left him, moving herself, her son and two daughters to Harlem in order to start a new life.
But New York proved rough in other ways. With little money—Robinson helped his mother save for an apartment by earning change dancing for strangers in Times Square—the Smiths built their new life in a section of Harlem dominated by flophouses and gangsters.
Fearful that her son would get pulled into this shady world, Robinson's mother turned to the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, where a man by the name of George Gainford had just started a boxing club.
It didn't take much for Robinson, who'd been a neighbor of heavyweight champ Joe Louis back in Detroit, to strap on fighting gloves. For the first bout of his career in 1936, he borrowed the Amateur Athletic Union card of another boxer, whose name was Ray Robinson, to enter the ring. Robinson wouldn't go by his birth name for the rest of his career. The nickname "Sugar" came from Gainford, who had described the young boxer as "sweet as sugar"; reporters soon began using the moniker.
"Sugar Ray Robinson had a nice ring to it," he later said. "Sugar Walker Smith wouldn't have been the same."
Robinson quickly moved up the ranks. He won his first Golden Gloves title (featherweight) in 1939, and then repeated the accomplishment in 1940. He turned pro that same year.
In a career that spanned 25 years, Robinson amassed 175 wins, 110 knockouts and just 19 losses.
Robinson began his career with an astonishing 40 straight victories and was called the "uncrowned champion" by boxing fans on account that the mob, who Robinson refused to play nice with, denied him the chance to fight for the world welterweight title until after the war. When Robinson finally did get his shot at the belt in 1946, he took home the crown with a unanimous 15-round decision over Tommy Bell; Robinson would hold the welterweight title until 1951. Six years later, Robinson captured the middleweight title for the first time by defeating Jake LaMotta. By 1958, he had become the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times.
Robinson's ability to cross weight classes caused boxing fans and writers to dub him "pound for pound, the best," a sentiment that that has not faded over the years.
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