When Dreams Come True….The Story of Sugar Ray Robinson vs Jimmy Doyle
The mind is an amazing thing, it is more powerful than the body and it is the engine for what drives us and guides us through life, if the mind is strong and focused then life becomes better, if the mind is weak and negative then your life will equally reflect this state. The mind is like a heat seeking missile, give it something to target and believe in the goal and it will do everything in its power to reach that target.
We often hear of people, whether it is sportsmen such as boxers or those reaching a life long goal, stating that they ‘dreamed of this day’ since they were a little child, it is always equated with something good and with a goal long aimed for.
What if though, the dream you had wasn’t great? It was a nightmare and you didn’t want it to come true? Could you do anything to prevent the dream from coming true? Could your premonition predict the course of future regardless of your actions?
Sugar Ray Robinson, widely regarded as the greatest boxer to have ever lived, was scheduled to fight 22yr old Jimmy Doyle on June 24 1947 in Cleveland. Robinson was the current world welterweight champion and was at the peak of his powers, Doyle had reeled off five straight victories to make him a worthy challenger to the title and with 43 wins to his name had built himself an impressive record. The night before the fight though, would make this match up a nightmare…
Sugar Ray Robinson was dreaming, Jimmy Doyle was in the ring with him, after a few good punches Doyle was flat on his back, his blank eyes staring up at Robinson who stood over him staring down at his fallen opponent. The referee moves in to start the count to ten but the people in the crowd begin to chant, ‘he’s dead, he’s dead’, Robinson wakes up from his nightmare.
The dream disturbed Robinson so much he confided in his manager George Gainsford. Gainsford brushed the dream off, ‘Forget it Robinson, that’s a dream, that’s all. Don’t have it on your mind. Nothing’s gonna happen.’
Still in shock, Robinson attended the weigh in and told his promoter Larry Atkins that he didn’t want to fight Doyle because he didn’t want anything to happen to him. Atkins unsurprisingly as a promoter, wasn’t having any of it. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, dreams don’t come true, if they did, I’d be a millionaire.’
Robinson further threatened to tell the commission, but having already postponed the fight twice, the chances of a third delay wouldn’t go down very well. Eventually a priest was called in to persuade Robinson to go ahead with the fight.
As the fight began, Doyle came forward applying pressure to Robinson but the champion was too slick and was edging each and every round. Doyle had his moments in the middle rounds but Robinson regained the upper hand in round eight when he threw a double right hand, the first to Doyle’s stomach and the second to his head, Doyle pressed on but the punches had slowed him down, as he set himself to throw his own right hand, Robinson beat him to the punch with a left hook which caught Doyle square on the jaw. The punch sent Doyle crashing to the ground, his head snapping back as it thudded onto the canvas.
Robinson stood over him, just as he did in his dream, the referee hadn’t realised how seriously Doyle was hurt, Doyle stirred at the count of four and reached for an imaginary rope before slumping back. The bell rang at the count of nine and the referee called for his corner to pick Doyle up but the first of Doyle’s cornermen to reach him knew immediately the fight was over and shouted to get the doctor to Doyle.
The doctor further confirmed everyones worst fears calling for a stretcher and an ambulance. The crowd was silent, waiting, hoping for Doyle to show some signs of consciousness but it never came, instead Doyle was on his way to St.Vincent Charity hospital to operate on a suspected blood clot of the brain.
Just 17 hours later Doyle had not woken from his coma and sadly lost his life, bringing to reality the dream of Sugar Ray Robinson. Charges were bought against Robinson but were eventually dropped with the people involved in calling for an inquest finally understanding the unfortunate nature of events which occurred that fateful night.
Sugar Ray Robinson would go onto donate half of the earnings for his next fight to Jimmy Doyle’s mother and in another benefit to Doyle’s mother, the money was enough to open a trust fund for her which would pay her money each month.
That ends the story of Sugar Ray Robinson and Jimmy Doyle, reminding us that when dreams come true, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows…
For further reading get the book Sugar Ray by Sugar Ray Robinson with Dave Anderson