September 12

This Day in History

Sports

Sep 12, 1951:

Sugar Ray Robinson wins back belt

On September 12, 1951, former middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Randy Turpin to win back the belt in front of 61,370 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Robinson, a New York City native, had lost the belt to Turpin two months prior in Turpin’s native London.

By 1951, Sugar Ray Robinson 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.

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