Many say he remains the finest pound for pound boxer to ever step into the ring. The arguing barbers in Coming to America may not think so, but consider the following: he defeated Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Carmen Basillio. He held the welterweight title from ’46 to ’51, had an 85-0 record as an amateur and won 128 of his first 131 fights as a pro (84 by knock-outs).
After a three year retirement he returned to win the middleweight title at the age of 34. He makes a strong case and a difficult one to argue against.
In any event, whether you think he’s the greatest or not, his life is going to get the biopic treatment, like Ali, La Motta and Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter before him. Producer Rachael Horovitz is teaming up with screenwriter Danny Strong to get an option on the book Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson. Although Strong is part of the production team, the script is going to be written by Wil Haygood, the author of the aforementioned book.
Aside from his prowess in the ring, Robinson’s life seems ripe for the biopic treatment. He stood up against mob control of boxing in the 40’s and 50’s and opened a Harlem nightclub in the mid-40’s. Sadly he did not invest his significant earnings from boxing well and by the mid-60’s was broke. He made occasional TV appearances (Land of the Giants, Mission: Impossible) and was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, passing away in 1989 at the age of 67.
Once Haygood has put the script together, Strong and Horovitz will have a package that they can shop around the studios. Whether they can get funding and then assemble a fitting cast for so important a story, we shall see. See the embedded video below for some Sugar Ray highlights.