Sugar Ray Robinson (Posted 3/8/2015)
Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the most prolific boxers in history, and also a Freemason! He passed away 26 years ago this Sunday. Let’s take a look at our brother who dominated boxing in more than one category.
Born as Walker Smith Jr. in Detroit on May 3, 1921 to Walker Smith Sr. and Leila Hurst. He was the youngest of three. His father worked 18 hours a day, six days a week to support his family. When his parents divorced, Walker moved with his mother to New York City.
Walker got in to boxing at 15 after dropping out of high school. He tried to enter the Amateur Athletic Union so he could box for a living. Since the minimum age for the AAU was eighteen, Walker decided to borrow the birth certificate of his older friend Ray Robinson. After a fight early in his career, “Ray Robinson” was told that he was as sweet as sugar by an audience member. Thus the moniker of Sugar Ray Robinson was born.
Debuting on October 4, 1940, Robinson won by knocking out against Joe Echevarria. Over the next three years, Sugar Ray would amass a record of 40-1 by beating champions like Sammy Angott, Marty Servo and Henry Armstrong. His only loss came in a rematch against Jake LaMotta after a ten-round match. LaMotta, who was 16 lbs. heavier, won by decision.
In 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army to perform exhibition fights alongside heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Louis. Sugar Ray toured for fifteen months before being honorably discharged.
After returning from service, Robinson had a 70-1-1 record under his belt before challenging Tommy Bell to the Welterweight Championship. After winning in 15 rounds, Robinson would spend the next four years defending his title against names like Jimmy Doyle, Kid Gavilan and George Costner. After knocking out Costner in under three minutes, Robinson decided to make the switch to Middleweight as it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to keep his weight under the 147lb limit.
Sugar Ray would fight Jake LaMotta for the sixth time for the Middleweight Championship on February 14, 1951. He knocked out LaMotta in thirteen rounds and grew his record against LaMotta to 5-1. After attaining the title, Robinson toured Europe and participated in fights against Gerhard Hecht and Randolph Turpin. After returning to the states and winning several more fights, Sugar Ray retired in 1952 with a record of 131-3-1.
After a few business ventures did not pan out as expected, Sugar Ray Robinson decided to get back in the ring. After winning his first comeback fight in 1955, Robinson’s age of 34 began to show as he lost multiple fights to some younger boxers. After ten more years and another middleweight title, Sugar Ray retired with a record of 173-19-6.
Sugar Ray joined Joppa Lodge #55 during his time in New York. He is noted as being a freemason alongside fellow boxer Jack Dempsey.
Robinson spent his retirement performing in TV shows and movies before being diagnosed with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. He passed away at the age of 67 in 1989.
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The Bodies of the Scottish Rite, sitting in the Valley of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, acknowledge and yield allegiance to the Supreme Council, 33°, of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, whose Grand East is in Lexington, Massachusetts.