Sugar Ray Robinson is considered the greatest boxer, pound for pound by the experts. For me, I had the honor of working for him for 5 glorious years as his personal secretary during the early 1970s after he retired from the ring.
While the world knows him for his boxing expertise, I will always remember him as a kind, caring, lovable gentleman to children and adults alike. He was generous to a fault. Ray was the first person to show me what being of service to others really means. He lived it throughout his life.
Happy Birthday, Ray. Your memory will remain with me forever.
Sugar Ray Robinson (born Walker Smith Jr.,
May 3, 1921 – April 12, 1989) was an African-American professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, 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.
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. 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 in 1951. He defeated other Hall of Fame fighters such as Jake LaMotta,Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Randy Turpin, Carl ‘Bobo’ Olson, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan. Robinson engaged in 200 pro bouts, and his professional career lasted nearly 26 years.
Robinson was a fluid boxer who possessed power in both hands and a fast jab. In 1951 TIME said “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.”Robinson stated that once a fighter gained a certain amount of skill, his boxing technique became reflexive.
Robinson was named the greatest fighter of the 20th century by the Associated Press, and the greatest boxer in history by ESPN.com in 2007. The Ring magazine rated him the best “pound for pound” boxer of all-time in 1997, and its “Fighter of the Decade” for the 1950s. Muhammad Ali, who repeatedly called himself “The Greatest” throughout his career, ranked Robinson as the greatest boxer of all time. Other Hall of Fame boxers such as Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard said the same.
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 struggled, and lived in poverty until his death in 1989. In 2006, he was featured on a commemorative stamp by the United States Postal Service.
Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there’s no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest.—Sugar Ray Leonard
The king, the master, my idol.—Muhammad Ali 
He was the greatest. Pound for pound, the greatest fighter who ever lived. There’s no question about it.—Jake La Motta
Robinson has been ranked as the greatest boxer of all time by sportswriters, fellow boxers, and trainers. The phrase “pound for pound”, was created by sportswriters for him during his career as a way to compare boxers irrespective of weight, and Hall of Fame fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard have ranked Robinson as the greatest pound for pound boxer in history. In 1997, The Ring ranked him as the best pound for pound fighter in history, and in 1999, he was named “welterweight of the century,” “middleweight of the century,” and overall “fighter of the century” by the Associated Press. In 2007, ESPN.com featured the piece “50 Greatest Boxers of All Time”, in which it named Robinson the top boxer in history. In 2003, The Ring magazine ranked him number 11 in the list of all-time greatest punchers. Robinson was also ranked as the #1 welterweight and the #1 pound for pound boxer of all-time by the International Boxing Research Organization.
Robinson was one of the first African Americans to establish himself as a star outside of sports. He was an integral part of the New York social scene in the 1940s and 1950s. His glamorous restaurant, Sugar Ray’s, hosted stars such as Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Nat “King” Cole, Joe Louis, and Lena Horne among others. Robinson was known as a flamboyant personality outside the ring. He combined striking good looks, 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 as an actor and had his own television show.
According to ESPN.com’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.” 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. In 1962, when Robinson returned to Paris—where he was still a national hero—in order to persuade him to make the trip, the French promised to bring over his masseur, his hairdresser, a guy who whistled while he trained, and his trademark Cadillac. 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 “Sugar” Rashad Evans.