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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 13:42 GMT
Tragic Turpin earns US recognition
Randolph Turpin in the ring with Sugar Ray Robinson
Turpin achieved hero status after defeating Sugar Ray
Boxing legend Randolph Turpin has been elected to America's International Hall of Fame.

Nearly half a century after shocking the world and delivering a new sporting hero to the post-war nation, Britain's Turpin this week has finally won recognition across the Atlantic.

Turpin famously defeated Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 but tragically took his own life 15 years later - he will be inducted posthumously in Cansanota, New York on 10 June.

A plaque with his biography and photograph will be placed on permanent display in the Hall of Fame gallery.

He joins the Modern Category which more recently includes Edinburgh's former world lightweight champion Ken Buchanan, who was honoured last year.

A 'king' dethroned

Turpin originated from a Leamington Spa boxing family and gained celebrity status as a 23-year-old when he overcame the formidable Sugar Ray Robinson to win the world middleweight title at London's Earls Court in July 1951.

Sugar Ray was unbeaten in 91 fights and, after knocking the king off his throne, Turpin gained huge popularity, drawing vast crowds wherever he went following his completely unexpected win.

Sugar Ray Robinson training
Sugar Ray: A clear favourite against Turpin

But Turpin, and his individual style, had gained a place in history - whether that was sufficient consolation or not for becoming the shortest reigning middleweight champion.

After landing the British and European titles in the space of just four months in 1950-51, Turpin's promoter Jack Solomons decided Randy was ready for the ultimate test.

Ticket scramble

Robinson, then 30, had been on a three-month tour of Europe in an open-topped pink Cadillac, during which he fought a number of non-title fights.

There was an unprecedented rush for the 18,000 tickets for the Robinson and Turpin clash and were sold in three days.

Turpin was classed as the underdog against the master.

The big night arrived and, after the 13th round Robinson needed a knock-out, but Turpin's crouching style was still proving troublesome.

Robinson struggled and when referee Eugene Henderson raised Turpin's hand at the final bell the unbelievable had been confirmed.

The champion confessed he had been beaten by a better man. "I have no alibis," admitted Robinson.

Only 64 days later, in the era of the contractually tied-on automatic re-match, the pair fought again and there was a different story.

The second fight drew a crowd of 61,000 to the Polo Grounds, New York and Turpin was paid around 70,000 as the defending champion.

Randolph Turpin fights Sugar Ray Robinson
Turpin's crounching style troubled Sugar Ray

Robinson took an early lead but Turpin came back and with Robinson sustaining a bad cut on the eye, time was not on the American's side.

In the 10th, Turpin went down for a count of seven and the former champion followed up with some dazzling punches before referee Ruby Goldstein called a halt with eight seconds of the round remaining.

A fading career

Boxing life had to go on for Turpin, and a new campaign for the world crown.

He took the British and Empire light-heavyweight title from Don Cockell, and continued winning.

It was eventually decided that either Turpin or Charles Humez, France's European middleweight champion, would meet the winner of an American elimination series for the world title, with Robinson having retired.

Turpin out-pointed Humez at London's White City but, burdened by personal problems, then lost a unanimous point verdict to Carl `Bobo' Olsen in New York.

His world title days were over, but Turpin still claimed a Lonsdale Belt outright before retiring following a knock-out by Yolande Pompey.

He bid farewell to the sport in 1958 with an impressive 66-8-1 record, including 45 stoppages.

Turpin then tried several business ventures, which proved unsuccessful, and in 1962 ran into the Inland Revenue.

In May 1966, he tragically took his own life, less than 15 years after his great win.

But at least now there will be a permanent memorial to toast the magnificent achievement of dethroning the great Sugar Ray.

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