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Sports Then and Now

Muhammad Ali’s Idol – Sugar Ray Robinson

Posted on September 18, 2015 by Tony Samboras
The legendary Muhammad Ali considered Sugar Ray Robinson among his early idols.

The legendary Muhammad Ali considered Sugar Ray Robinson among his early idols.

Recognized as one of the most remarkable boxers of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson is also Muhammad Ali’s idol. History tells us that the legendary boxer held the Welterweight world title for six years (1946-1951).

Free bets in favor of Sugar Ray rose up as from 1958 when the fighter became the first sportsman to scoop divisional world championship for the fifth time.

Born in the year 1921, Sugar Ray is arguably one of, if not the best boxers of all time. In 1940, Sugar Ray turned pro and won his first fight. Sugar Ray spent a quarter century engaging in professional boxing and the twenty-five years of active fighting, Sugar Ray won the world Welterweight and Middleweight titles.

Free bets during the twenty-five years attracted both pundits and fans alike in favor of Ray. Having a successful career, Sugar Ray was referred to as being “Pound for Pound, The best”. Sugar Ray Robinson ended his boxing career in 1965, retiring from the sport having scooped 175 victories.


Who Is Sugar Ray Robinson

So who was pound-for-pound better? Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson?

So who was pound-for-pound better? Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson?

On May 3, 1921, a child was born who would decades later change the boxing world and affect the betting styles of gamblers and bookies alike especially in the form of free bets. Sugar Ray grew up in Detroit, Michigan and at the age of 11 years the family relocated to Harlem.

As he grew up, Sugar Ray danced for strangers at Time Square raising a bit of cash to help his mother save for an apartment. Ray’s mom, fearful that her child would be pulled into joining the then notorious gangs, she made her son join the boxing club started at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Being a neighbor of former heavyweight champion Joe Louis in Detroit, Ray took to boxing like a duck to water. For his first fight in 1936, Sugar Ray used an Amateur Athletic Union Card from another fighter who was also named Ray Robinson.

Gainford nicknamed Ray ”Sugar” after he described him to be as sweet as sugar. In later years, Sugar Ray Robinson was quoted stating that his new name had a nice ring and better off than just plain Sugar Walker Smith.

Dedicating his life to boxing, Sugar’s career moved up quickly through the ranks. Sugar won his first Golden Gloves title in 1939. He was fighting in the featherweight category. The following year, Sugar Ray won the same title and turned pro.


The Professional Era

In a career spanning quarter of a decade. Sugar Ray Robinson won 175 matches, delivered 110 knockouts and lost only 19 bouts. Ray begun his professional career with a record 40 wins under his belt.

The record earned him the title “Uncrowned Champion” after pundits declared that the mafia denied him the opportunity of participating in the welterweight title. Robinson was denied the opportunity to take part in the title tournament before the end of World War Two as he refused to bend to the mafias’ wishes.

After being granted the opportunity to fight for the title in 1946, Ray Robinson won the title after a fifteen round match fighting Tommy Bell. Robinson held the title till 1951 defending it for a record five times.

In 1957, Ray Robinson won the middleweight title after defeating Jake LaMotta. Ray Robinson’s ability to cross weight classes turned him into a hero. For later legend Muhammad Ali, Ray Robinson is one of the people who inspired him to become a boxer.

Muhammad Ali refers to Sugar Ray Robinson as “Sugar Ray inspired the King, The Master, and My Idol.” Ali’s famous Matador style was inspired by Sugar Ray. In 1984 The Ring Magazine featured Sugar Ray Robinson as No. 1 in their book “The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time.”

After retiring from boxing, Sugar Ray went into show business and later suffered from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar Ray Robinson passed away at Brotman Medical Center on April 12th, 1989.

This Article was written by Tony Samboras who is a native New Yorker and has had the pleasure of visiting some of the most famous places regarding the world of boxing including the house Sugar Ray grew up in. Tony work in sports continues as he writes for Australian based sports publication


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