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October 7, 2016

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............... ,,. ,, , ,,i~,., , , ,, . . __~ .... I" PAGE 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETrE, OCTOBER 7, 2016 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss SUGAR RAY ROBINSON An Artist in the Ring, the Persona of a Movie Star Out of the Ring A Young Robinson, 1942. Ray and his entourage in Paris. Sugar Ray Robinson has been called the greatest pound-for- pound fighter who ever lived for decades now. It was true years ago, and their certainly has not been a fighter in recent years who could even remotely challenge him for that designation. "Pound for Pound Greatest" is a term bandied about freely today, and like the term "Champion" in its current usage, it really has lost too much meaning to be taken seriously. This was not so in earlier eras. When Sugar Ray earned the fight to be called the Pound for Pound Greatest, it was at a time when people knew the sport and did not toss around such terms without giving it serious thought. To watch Robinson in action is to believe. I would go so far as to say just watching footage of him training is enough to clue you into what a great and complete artist he was. His timing, balance, and Ray and Sammy Davis back- stage Broadway for Golden So . Robinson after the Jimmy Doyle tragedy. accuracy were unmatched. His footwork made him a Nijinsky in the ring. When watching him, you can almost hear music to match his movements. He took a brutal and vicious sport and made it look beautiful. When he was des.troying his opponents, he made it look painless. Outside of the ring, Ray carried himself like a movie star. He always had an entourage following him. He drove a pink Cadillac and was always smiling. His public persona complemented his ability in the ring. If you had no idea who Sugar Ray Robinson was and he walked up and stood next to you, you would immediately realize you were in the presence of someone famous. He had "it." FOR AL(. AI Experience makes : nce 209 BROADWAY. REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building Ray and Gene Kelley dancing. He fought professionally for 25 years and had a long amateur career before that. Ray had 200 pro fights with 173 wins and 108 knockouts. He was only stopped once, by the heat and Joey Maxim. Sugar was undefeated in 40 bouts before having his first loss. That came at the hands of Jake LaMotta, who outweighed him by 16 pounds. He had beaten Jake in a previous match and would go on to win the Middleweight Championship from the Raging Bull in a brutal fight that would forever be remembered as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. In a tragic episode in Ray's career, he was scheduled to defend his Welterweight Championship against Jimmy Doyle. The night before the fight, Ray dreamt that he killed Doyle in the bout. The dream shook Robinson and he asked that the fight be called off. The boxing commission in Cleveland, Ohio, where the fight was taking place went so far as to bring in a Catholic priest to convince the champion that there was nothing to worry about. Ray agreed to fight, and that night Jimmy Doyle died as a result of the blows he took. I can only imagine the effect this had on Robinson. Last week I wrote about the movie Unforyotten, The Paul Pender Story. There is a great story told by the great Boston sports writer Bud Collins about Robinson in that film. Bud says he once asked Sugar why he didn't watch boxing matches. Robinson reply was priceless; he said to Collins, "Do you watch other writers type?" Here are some photos of Ray from different stages of his career. There will never be another to match Sugar Ray Robinson. AGELESS ONE RETURNS When Jaromir Jagr, the Na- tional Hockey League's Ageless One, returns for his 23 season, he'll have another goal to aim towards. That's producing 20 points to push him past Mark Messier into second place on the aU-time career list of those who, having totaled both goals and assists together, float in the high pantheon of NHL su- perstars. But while others have impres- sive statistics in several catego- ries, it is Jagr who has achieved his impressive numbers not only through talent but through supreme durability. Last year, for instance, he played in 79 of the regular season's 82 games while pushing his career point total to 1,868. In a league where many play- ers are done by their mid to late 20's and superstars sometime make it a decade longer, it is Jagr who will still be lacing up the skates when the NHL lifts the lid on its season. He'll be 44 when he glides out onto the ice for the Florida Panthers first game of the year when they host the New Jersey Devils on October 13% His immediate goal will be to pass Messier who is second in all-time career points with 1,887. That shouldn't be much of a problem for the 44-year-old right wing (who will turn 45 on February 15~). Last year, all he did was finish with a team high 66 points (27-39-66), pacing the Panthers to a first place finish in the Atlantic division. We figure that at some point before 2016 becomes 2017, Jagr should move into the sec- ond spot. He definitely won't move into the top spot. That's owned by Wayne Gretzky with 2,857 points. Even the Ageless One won't be able to catch the Great One. There's just a chance -- a small one that he could move into second place while play- ing in Boston. The Bruins host the Panthers at the Garden on December 5% so he might be in range by that time. His other visit to the Hub comes on April ISt, as the regular season is winding down. He'll commence cruising at NHL rinks once again this month as the league's oldest ac- tive player. Last year he became the oldest to record more than 60 points in a season. Can he break his own mark this time around? We l see. It's hard to believe, but when your faithful correspondent first starting covering the NHL during Bruins Head Coach Rick Bowness' soleseason (1991- 1992) behind the bench of the Black and Gold, there was Jagr performing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And when the Pens swept the B's in those long-ago conference finals, it was Jagr that contin- ued on to the Stanley Cup Final showdown with Chicago, cap- ping the season by capturing the trophy and toting it back to Pittsburgh with his teammates. It was Bowness who was canned by Bruins management, a deci- sion he inifiilly took very hard. But he moved on -- becoming the head coach of the then- expansion franchise Ottawa Senators a few weeks later. Much like Jagr, Bowness never left the NHL-- the coach- ing ranks, that is. Today he is associate head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- after stints with the Senators, the New York Islanders, the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Vancouver Canucks. Eventually Jagr would also become an NHL itinerant, leav- ing the Pens in 2001 to embark on a voyage around the league that would find him playing for the Capitals, Rangers, Fly- ers, Stars, Bruins, and Devils over the years before arriving in Florida. We always felt that one of for- mer Bruin GM Peter Chiarelli's greatest mistakes was not sign- ing up Jagr for another year back in the spring of 2013 after the B's lost to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. After he was essentially dismissed, Jagr was signed to a one-year deal by the Devils a month later and took full advantage of it -- finishing the 2013-2014 regular season as the team's leading scorer. When you think of it, Jagr's long, career may well have earned him another distinction or two. Indeed, he may be the last active NHL player to have played in the original Boston Garden, a facility that closed in 1995 -- or to have played in the present Garden's first season (1995-1996} -- a building that was first called the Fleet Center way back when it opened on September 30, 1995. If he isn't, then he is one of a very precious few remaining in the league to share those dis- tinctions. To use a phrase from another era, they could hold that meeting of those veteran (Continued on Page 14) EAST BOSTON LOCATION 111 Chelsea Street, East Boston 617 - 567-9871 PEABODY LOCATION 71 Newbury St (Route 1) Peabody 978-535-1811