Boxing is one of the most physically demanding sports for athletes. Fighters put their bodies on the line for a chance at the championship belt. Not only does the sport demand endurance and discipline, but boxers must also have the mental capacity to handle intense beatings in the ring. Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the greatest boxers to grace the ring. But he also fell on hard times.
Thanks to his excessive spending, he saw his bank account dwindle to the point of bankruptcy. And by the time of his death, he had close to nothing.
Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the greatest boxers ever
During his iconic 25-year career, Sugar Ray Robinson had an impressive 173 wins in 200 fights, earning his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Born in 1921 as Walker Smith Jr., the ambitious athlete dropped out of school in the ninth grade to pursue a boxing career. Despite being involved in a gang and getting married at the young age of 16, he developed a successful amateur career. Robinson won 85 amateur matches with no losses before going pro in 1940. Six years later, he became the world welterweight champion.
The “sweet as sugar” boxer continued amassing a fortune — while spending frivolously — until his retirement in 1965.
How Sugar Ray Robinson ended up losing his million-dollar fortune
When he was 11 years old, Robinson’s parents divorced, and his mother moved the family to New York. Growing up on the streets of Harlem, the aspiring young boxer strived to make a name for himself in the ring.
He watched his father, a cotton and peanut farmer from Georgia, work long hours to support his family. Robinson, who was determined to become famous, eventually amassed riches beyond his wildest dreams.
Rising from the depths of poverty, the legendary fighter earned about $4 million during his career, the equivalent of $30 million in today’s money, Celebrity Net Worth reports.
But he also spent lavishly.
Robinson purchased a Harlem nightclub, which eventually closed due to mismanagement. The successful fighter also enjoyed an unapologetically extravagant lifestyle. He drove a pink Cadillac and traveled with an entourage of loyal family members and beautiful women. He became known for his expensive taste in jewelry and flashy fur coats.
In Robinson’s autobiography, he wrote that by 1965, he was broke. He had spent everything he made in and out of the ring. One month after his last flight, the legend was destitute when he was honored with Sugar Ray Robinson Night at Madison Square Garden. According to Celebrity Net Worth, no furniture in his small New York apartment was strong enough to support the trophy he won that night.
Other famous boxers who’ve gone bankrupt
Sugar Ray Robinson isn’t the only boxer who’s gone bankrupt.
According to Forbes, Mike Tyson earned a staggering $685 million during his career. But in 2004, his lavish lifestyle caught up with him, and he had to file for bankruptcy, Bleacher Report says. His net worth is now an estimated $3 million. He recently fought in an exhibition match against Roy Jones Jr. to earn extra cash.
Boxing legend Evander Holyfield lost $200 million of his net worth. He defaulted on his mansion’s mortgage after racking up exorbitant sums in back taxes. Amid a costly divorce, the fighter had trouble keeping up with child support payments for his 11 kids.
Other famous boxers who didn’t fare much better include Riddick Bowe, Fernando Vargas, Leon Spinks, and Joe Louis.