I immediately made a cheeky request for a free copy, for review purposes of course. Not only was my request met, but the book was kindly signed by the author and will shortly go up for grabs in a saddoboxing.com competition. Many thanks Brian.
Spread over twenty five punchy chapters the book goes into great detail covering not only Robinsons ring achievements, but also his personal and social circumstances which shaped him as an individual. From his early years in Detroit, through the glory years as undisputed welterweight and middleweight champion of the world, to the struggling prize fighter unable to repay a debt to the authorities, his sublime skills and business empire a thing of the past.
Naturally greater emphasis is placed on Robinsons battles with LaMotta, Basilio, Fullmer and Olson, as well as his brace with Randy Turpin and his ill fated challenge to Joey Maxim. I was however pleasantly surprised at the level of detail afforded to Robinsons lesser foe’s as the authors succeeded in bringing these names to life and offering an insight into how a fighter operated in those days, the level of competition that he had to maintain over a sustained period of time, and the frequency at which he would box. As Brian Hughes put it “It simply wouldn’t be allowed today”
Whilst by the authors admission this a eulogy to Robinson, they don’t shy away from their responsibility to depict the darker side of Sugar Ray Robinson, it would have been wrong of them not to. The accounts of domestic violence and the “contempt” with which he treated his fellow professional at the negotiating table paint an altogether different picture of Ray Robinson, a picture that might come as a bit of a shock to some readers.
On the whole I was very impressed with this book. The effort that Brian and Damian Hughes have gone to give a reflection of Robinson as both an athlete and a man are most admirable. Whilst reading this book I got a true sense of just how much of an impact Robinson had, not only on the boxing fraternity, but also on the lives of regular folk both on US soil and the continent, Robinson had a global appeal that today’s fighters could only dream about..
Forty and more years after Robinson last laced up gloves his name is still used as a yardstick to measure non heavyweight boxers of any note. A tough act to follow, Sugar Ray Robinson had it all. Every punch in the book, a superb boxing brain and an innate toughness that few are born with. He has been described in his prime as the perfect fighting machine.
Talking about Robinson Muhammad Ali said “He was beautiful, the way he moved in the ring, his poise and the way he could punch was something only someone special could get away with. I have to say, yes, he was the greatest”
Brian and Damian Hughes simply say, he was Peerless.