Born Walker Smith, Jr., in Detroit, Michigan on May 3, 1921, Robinson became interested in boxing as a teenager, when he moved to New York City with his parents. When he was 13, he fought in the Police Athletic League competition, and by the time he was 15 he was fighting unlicensed amateurs. At the beginning of his career, he used his real name and was known as “Smitty” to his friends. One night he showed up for an amateur fight, but did not have the official identity card he needed to fight. He borrowed the boxing card from a friend named Ray Robinson. From then on, he used that name.
Robinson served in the U.S. Army during World War II, on February 27, 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army. He toured Army camps with Joe Louis and boxed exhibitions for soldiers. On March 29, 1944, shortly before he was scheduled to set sail for Europe, Robinson disappeared from his barracks at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York. Robinson said he fell down the stairs in his barracks and didn’t remember anything from the time of the fall until he woke up in a hospital on April 5. According to his file, a stranger found him in the street on April 1 and helped him to a hospital. Robinson received an honorable discharge from the Army as a sergeant on June 3, 1944.
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.
By 1951, Sugar Ray Robinson aka Walker Smith Jr. was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history. That summer, Robinson traveled to Great Britain for a vacation and publicity tour before his scheduled July 10 bout with Turpin, in which Sugar Ray was heavily favored. To the surprise of his fans around the world, however, the surprisingly strong Turpin battered Robinson and won the match in a 15-round decision. Afterward, Robinson requested and was granted a rematch.
Two months later on September 12, the Polo Grounds set a middleweight fight attendance record for the rematch. The crowd was filled with well-known personalities from U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur to stars of film and stage. Robinson, intent on avenging his loss, trained intensely for the rematch, refusing to once again take his opponent too lightly. From the first ring of the bell, the 31-year-old Robinson dictated the pace of the fight to his 23-year-old opponent, and won each of the first seven rounds decisively. In the eighth round, however, Robinson appeared to tire, and Turpin fought with a new intensity, hitting and hurting Robinson for the first time in the fight. In the ninth round, Turpin delivered numerous right hands to Robinson’s head, opening a cut over his left eye. Still, Robinson was able to wrest back control of the fight in the 10th, when he knocked Turpin down with a right to the jaw. When Turpin was ready to continue, Robinson, re-energized, unleashed an onslaught to his head and body. Two minutes and 52 seconds into the 10th round, referee Rudy Goldstein stopped the fight, and Robinson was showered with adulation from the adoring hometown crowd.
Robinson retired from boxing in 1965 with 110 knockouts to his credit. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967.
He died in Los Angeles at the age of 67 and was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California. He was succumbed to diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
173 Wins with 110 by way of KO
19 losses including being KOd 1 time