Hailed by Muhammad Ali as "the king, the master, my idol," Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest boxer America had seen since Joe Louis and is considered by many today to be, pound for pound, the best boxer the sport has ever known. A world welterweight and five-time middleweight champion, he had a career that spanned three decades. With his graceful yet powerful style and Hollywood looks -- which he would use to his advantage upon his final retirement from boxing -- he embodied the very essence of the "sweet science." Before he finally hung up his boxing gloves in 1965, at the age of forty-four, Sugar Ray Robinson won 125 consecutive fights, including victories over Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Gene Fullmer, and Randy Turpin. His successes were not his alone, however. They belonged to his family as well, though those relationships would be marked by neglect and abuse.
At a time still characterized by discrimination, his victories, like those of Jackie Robinson, represented victories for all black America. And they were all the more symbolic because of the place he chose to call home -- Harlem. Co-written with Robinson's son, Ray Robinson II, and thoroughly researched by Amsterdam News reporter Herb Boyd, Pound for Pound is not only a definitive portrait of an emotionally complex man and his family, it is also a portrait of Harlem at the apex of its creativity, a time when Miles Davis was playing at Minton's, Langston Hughes was writing his divine poetry, and a boy from Georgia originally named Walker Smith Jr. would take on the moniker "Sugar."