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Old 09-19-2007, 10:30 PM   #166
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Default Re: Many people consider Sugar Ray Robinson the GOAT...

Originally Posted by OLD FOGEY
In the United States, boxing became vastly stronger, in my judgement, in the late thirties with the Joe Louis era. The reason is obvious. Integration. Black talent had been cut off at the roots. Why even go into a sport where one got the nothing end of the purse, the best trainers looked the other way, and one was expected to lay down for top white fighters. Things weren't perfect after Joe Louis, but they were better, and there was a tremendous influx of black talent. The forties were certainly better for boxing in America than any previous decade had been.
It should be noted that there were also few other options for black athletes. Most major Amercican sports remained segregated until the late forties (baseball, gridiron football) or even the fifties (NBA).
Sugar Ray Robinson is perhaps the best example of the impact on boxing. Robinson's first love was baseball and baseball scouts who saw him play rated him a top prospect. Had he been born ten years later, Robinson would most likely have been a major league baseball player.

It is also fair to state that historical fluctuations can go the other way. In the United States, the white ethnic boxers so prominent in the first half of the century began to abandon the sport after about 1950 and perhaps a little earlier. This process can actually be traced by checking the Ring Magazine top tens. For example, between 1946 and 1955 there were 12 white American-born fighters rated among the top five heavyweight contenders. Between 1960 and 1979, there were only two, Quarry and Bobick.

If there was a cliche among American boxing "experts" in the sixties, it was that boxing was regressing, or even dying. Everyone harped on the theme that there just weren't as many good fighters as there used to be.
Nice post. It makes a lot of sense.
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