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A Good Friend
Helps Sugar Ray Robinson
Kick-Start His Career Early
A world-famous boxer established a brilliant career while fighting in the ring under an assumed name, that of a friend.
The name of Sugar Ray Robinson conjures up some great memories of some of the ring’s most memorable bouts. But, Robinson was not his real name.
Born Walker Smith Jr. in Ailey, Georgia, this young lad once aspired to be a doctor but changed his mind after dropping out of school in the 9th grade. Suddenly, he wanted to prove himself a fighter. At age 15, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament but was told he first needed to secure an AAU membership card. Since the age of admittance was ‘18’, a friend of his let him borrow his birth certificate. His friend was the real Ray Robinson.
In one of his first fights in New York, a female fan told him he was as sweet as sugar. Sugar was added to his handle and his career was well underway. As an amateur, Robinson was 85-0. As a professional in 1951 at age 19, Sugar Ray had posted a record of 128-1-2.
Who knows what would have happened to his boxing ambitions had a friend not stepped forth to allow him to use his birth certificate to get an early start.