SUGAR RAY BIOGRAPHY TO AIR (New York Times, Thursday, December 3, 1998) By Associated Press If Miles Davis, a giant of jazz, had his trumpet handy, he probably would have played the blues. Davis was in the Civic Arena at Pittsburgh watching another artist having a bad night. In fact, Sugar Ray Robinson was on the floor, knocked down by light-punching Joey Archer. Peter Hamill, the columnist-novelist, was sitting next to Davis that night of Nov. 10, 1965. "I remember Miles standing up, and there were tears welling his face to have seen this because I think he believed Robinson was going to get knocked out,'' Hamill says in "Sugar Ray Robinson: The Bright Lights and Dark Shadows of a Champion,'' to be telecast on HBO at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Robinson did not get knocked out, but he did lose a 10-round decision. After the fight, Hamill recalls, Davis went to the dressing room, leaned over Robinson, lying on a rubdown table, and said, "Ray, you're packing it in.'' Robinson nodded his head and said, "You're right.'' The man, generally considered the greatest fighter ever, never fought again, calling it quits at age 44 with a record of 175-19-6, with 109 knockouts. He was world welterweight champion from 1946 to 1951 and was middleweight champion five times, three of them after he turned 34. Born Walker Smith, he became Ray Robinson when he used a card issued to the real Robinson so that he could box on an amateur show. He became Sugar Ray when early in his career a reporter told manager George Gainford that Robinson was a sweet fighter, and Gainford replied, "Sweet as sugar.'' Sweet he was, with his dancer's footwork and dazzling combinations. He could also be as sweet as a cobra -- taking an opponent out with a single punch. The documentary shows Robinson stopping Jake LaMotta for the middleweight title in 1951 and regaining it with 10th-round rally against Randy Turpin and with a single left-hook knockout of Gene Fullmer. There also clips of his fights against Carmen Basilio and Carl "Bobo'' Olson. What is missing are highlights of Robinson at his very best as a welterweight. Most of those fights were not filmed. When he challenged LaMotta, in their sixth meeting, his record was 121-1-2. The loss was to LaMotta and the draws were against two other middleweights -- Jose Basora and Henry Brimm. Robinson in his heyday lived flamboyantly. He drove a pink Cadillac, dressed flashily and surrounded himself with people. When he went to Europe for a series of fights in 1950, he took 53 pieces of luggage and and a nine-person entourage that included a chauffeur, valet and barber. "He loved people around him and when they weren't there he was depressed,'' said Ron Smith, a son. At one time he owned a block of businesses in Harlem that included Sugar Ray's bar. He was not a good businessman, eventually losing all the businesses, and although he was tough negotiator for his purses, he spent or lost of most of his earnings. Toward the end of his career, he was fighting in small towns for purses as little as $1,000. With Robinson's ego also came extramarital affairs to help feed it, and also a temper. There were family problems. "It was outrageous the way he would haul off and slap me if he thought I disapproved, or was getting ready to leave or anything,'' says Robinson's first wife, Edna Mae, in talking about Robinson's affairs. Ray Robinson Jr. lets it be known that Sugar Ray, who died in 1989, often fell short as a father. "For years I had a lot of problems with dad,'' he said, "but to say I don't miss him is not possible. He's ever present in my life, and I do miss him because we had fun. His passing profoundly affected me.'' THE SUGAR IN THE SWEET SCIENCE (ESPN.com) By Ron Flatter "Pound for pound, the best." The claim has been used to describe many boxers, but it was invented for Sugar Ray Robinson. Never mind the weight class. When it came to boxing, Robinson was as good as it got. Muhammad Ali called Sugar Ray "the king, the master, my idol." "Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward," boxing historian Bert Sugar said. Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, then was the middleweight champion five times between 1951 and 1960. At his peak, his record was 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts. And he never took a 10-count in his 202 fights, though he once suffered a TKO. His one early loss was to Jake LaMotta, his career-long rival. They fought six times, and Robinson won five. As recently as 1997, Robinson was renamed the best of all time -- "pound for pound" -- when The Ring magazine chose him the best boxer in its 75 years of publication. But Robinson's legacy was not made on boxing alone. He was one of the first African-American athletes to become a major star outside of sports. With his flashy pink Cadillac convertible and his Harlem nightclub, Sugar Ray was as much a part of the New York scene in the forties and fifties as the Copa and Sinatra. He was the pioneer of boxing's bigger-than-life entourages, including a secretary, barber, masseur, voice coach, a coterie of trainers, beautiful women, a dwarf mascot and lifelong manager George Gainford. After making an estimated $4 million in the ring, Robinson spent himself into destitution by the mid-sixties. Then he reinvented himself by getting into show business -- acting and even singing. But he would always be remembered for the music he made in the ring. "He boxed as though he were playing the violin," sportswriter Barney Nagler observed. Robinson literally made his name boxing. Born Walker Smith Jr. in Detroit on May 3, 1921 (some say it was earlier), he moved with his parents to New York. Boxing in a Harlem gym, he borrowed the Amateur Athletic Union boxing card of a friend named Ray Robinson. An early look at the future champ prompted Gainford to say he was "sweet as sugar." So Walker Smith Jr. was no longer. In 1939, Sugar Ray Robinson was born. Shortly after winning the New York Golden Gloves, Robinson turned pro at age 19. Aside from a hitch in the Army, Robinson's World War II life was marked by the beginning of his rivalry with LaMotta. It started with his brutal, 10-round victory in New York. LaMotta, a middleweight, won their first rematch in Detroit, Robinson's first defeat in 41 pro fights. Then Robinson, a welterweight, avenged the loss three weeks later, also in Detroit. Robinson won two more decisions over LaMotta in 1945. "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes," LaMotta later said. Just before Christmas 1946, Robinson won the vacant welterweight championship with a unanimous 15-round decision over Tommy Bell. An eighth-round TKO of Jimmy Doyle in 1947 proved to be a tragic title defense for Robinson. Doyle suffered brain injuries that eventually cost him his life. When the coroner asked if he figured to get Doyle "in trouble," Robinson said, "Mister, it's my business to get him in trouble." Robinson continued to dominate his welterweight championship fights, including winning a unanimous decision over future champ Kid Gavilan on July 11, 1949. Then he moved up and won the vacant Pennsylvania middleweight title in 1950 with a unanimous decision over France's Robert Villemain. Still, there was that enduring memory of the only man who ever beat him. After more than five years, Robinson was reunited with LaMotta at Chicago Stadium on Feb. 14, 1951. Through seven rounds, the fight was competitive. Then the champ took command in the bloody "St. Valentine's Day Massacre." The raging Robinson ripped into the raging bull and it was a weary LaMotta who came out for the 12th round, hanging onto the ropes, Robinson's trunks, anything he could find to avoid being knocked down for the first time in his career. Somehow, LaMotta answered the bell for the 13th, but a barrage of unanswered punches from Robinson led the referee to stop the bloodbath. Robinson then traveled to Europe, where he went through six opponents in as many weeks. But his streak of 91 fights without a defeat (88-0-2 with one no contest) ended when Randy Turpin scored a stunning upset, taking the title on a 15-round decision in London on July 10, 1951. Sugar Ray came home and, two months later in New York, he regained the championship from Turpin before 61,370 fans at the Polo Grounds, winning on a 10th-round TKO. Robinson went after the light-heavyweight championship, fighting Joey Maxim on June 25, 1952. It was 103 degrees at Yankee Stadium, and Robinson wilted under the Maxim-um pressure and the New York heat, failing to answer the bell for the 14th round. Robinson had been ahead on all three officials' cards. Six months later, he announced his retirement. Business interests and a tap-dancing career occupied the two years before Robinson returned to the ring in 1955. He regained the middleweight championship with his third victory over Carl "Bobo" Olson, a second-round KO on Dec. 9, 1955. Not done spawning rivalries, Robinson lost his title on Jan. 2, 1957 to Gene Fullmer. Robinson suffered a bad cut alongside his right eye in the 14th round and dropped a unanimous decision. But he won back the title four months later in his first of three rematch victories over Fullmer. He did it with a quick left hook in the fifth round, the first time Fullmer was ever knocked out. Robinson resumed the pattern later that year, this time with 5-foot-6 Carmen Basilio, who was five inches shorter than Robinson. Sugar Ray cut open Basilio's eye and nose to gain an early advantage before Basilio, the welterweight champion, came back to win a split decision in a furious fight. Afterward, Basilio may have spoken for the many opponents who hated Robinson and all his swagger. Saying Robinson would not admit to how hard he punched, Basilio said, "Robinson wouldn't tell the truth to God." More than bad blood would flow six months later in their rematch. In spite of a virus and his 36 years, Robinson pounded Basilio, closing his left eye, and won a split decision to gain the middleweight championship for the fifth -- and final -- time. Robinson didn't have a title fight for almost two years, and when he did, he relinquished his belt for the last time. Paul Pender took a 15-round split decision from him on Jan. 22, 1960. When Gainford complained about the verdict, Robinson said, "No beefs, George. Sometimes we got the best of it in the past." By 1965, an over-the-hill Robinson was broke and forced to fight five times in 35 days for as little as $1,100 a night. Soon after losing a 10-round decision to Joey Archer, the 44-year-old Robinson announced his retirement -- this time for good. He finished with a record of 175-19-6 with two no-decisions, according to The Ring. In his later years, Robinson resumed a show-business career that enabled him to rally his finances. He moved to Southern California with his third wife, Millie. By 1986, he made one of his last public appearances as the best man at a wedding. The groom: Jake LaMotta. Robinson, suffering from Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, died at age 67 on April 12, 1989, in Culver City, Calif. Sugar Ray Leonard, who took Robinson's name, said, "Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there's no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest." THEM'S FIGHTING WORDS . . . "Boxing is a cruel and disloyal mistress. She's turned her back on everyone who ever loved her, even on Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard and the incomparable Muhammad Ali." --Ron Borges, Boston Globe, November 6, 1998 BELOVED DON DUNPHY DIES AT 90 (The Associated Press, July 23, 1998) NEW YORK -- Don Dunphy, an announcer who for decades was the voice of boxing, died Wednesday following heart surgery. He was 90. In a career of more than 50 years, Dunphy broadcast almost every major sport, but it was boxing in which he made his biggest impact. He broadcast over 2,000 fights and more than 200 title bouts, including 50 for the heavyweight championship. His first championship fight was the Joe Louis-Billy Conn fight on June 18, 1941, a radio broadcast that drew a 56.2 rating. He got the job when he won an audition conducted May 22, 1941, by Gillette, the sponsor. Several would-be announcers were taped as they called the Gus Lesnevich-Anton Christoforidis light heavyweight title fight. In his 1988 book, "Don Dunphy at Ringside," he joked that he got the job because he was the only one who could pronounce the fighters' names. The Louis-Conn fight was the first of Gillette's weekly boxing series that ran into 1960 and included fights featuring Rocky Marciano, Jersey Joe Wolcott, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio, Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale. Beginning in 1960, the fights were televised by ABC, with Dunphy providing the voice. He broadcast Muhammad Ali's first TV bout in 1961 and his last one in 1981, and in the intervening years called the three epic Ali-Joe Frazier bouts. His last major title fight was the Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns welterweight title bout in 1981. Dunphy appeared in six movies -- as a boxing announcer, of course -- including the 1981 Academy Award-winning "Raging Bull." Dunphy was a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. The International Boxing Hall of Fame inducted him in 1993. Dunphy, a 1930 graduate of Manhattan College, is survived by his wife of 56 years, Muriel, and two sons, Don Jr., a vice president with ABC News, and Bob, an independent TV sports producer and director. LONGTIME MSG BOXING HEAD HARRY MARKSON (The Associated Press, November 12, 1998) By Ed Schuyler Jr. NEW YORK -- Harry Markson, a dignified leader in the chaotic world of professional boxing as longtime director of the sport at Madison Square Garden, is dead at 92. "He was really 100 percent,'' said Alan Baker, former vice president of public relations at the Garden. "All the years he was there he was never touched by scandal. That's a miracle. "He was the finest man I ever knew,'' said Teddy Brenner, who as a matchmaker worked with Markson for 19 years. Markson died Tuesday night at a hospital in Red Bank, N.J., near his home. He was involved in the promotion of more than 2,000 fights by the time he retired as president of Madison Square Garden Boxing, Inc., in 1973 -- many of them involving such boxing greats as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio and Willie Pep. "The great thing about Harry was he was able to deal with divergent personalities at the same time,'' said Tom Kenville, who worked under Markson for eight years. "That is especially tough in boxing where everybody is looking to get stabbed in the back.'' Markson, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was a sports writer when in 1933 he became a part-time publicist for the Garden. Four years later he became publicity director for promoter Mike Jacobs' 20th Century Sporting Club. When Jacobs retired in 1948, Markson became an official for the International Boxing Club led by James D. Norris. After Norris ran afoul of antitrust laws. Markson took charge of boxing for Madison Square Garden Corp. and in 1968 he was made president of Madison Square Garden Boxing. "Harry to me was a very quiet leader, but very strong,'' said Gil Clancy, who was trainer and co-manager of Emile Griffith, former welterweight and middleweight champion, who fought numerous times in the Garden. Markson is survived by his wife, Rachel, a son and a granddaughter.