Name: Gene Fullmer
Nationality: US American
Hometown: West Jordan, UT, USA
Height: 5' 8
Manager: Marv Jensen
: Gene Fullmer
IN THE ring, Gene Fullmer was substance over style.
A mormon from West Jordan, Utah, Gene Fullmer turned pro in 1951, one month before his 20th birthday. He scored knockouts in 14 of his first 16 pro fights while campaigning primarily in the West. Among his significant early victories was a points win over future middleweight champ Paul Pender. Wins over Rocky Castellani, Gil Turner and Ralph "Tiger" Jones in 1956 moved him into title contention.
He captured the middleweight title in 1957 by decisioning legendary champion Sugar Ray Robinson. Again, it was Fullmer's ability to endure punishment and his tireless attack that carried him to victory. In a rematch with Robinson four months later, Sugar Ray scored a one-punch knockout, delivering a left hook in the fifth round that some have called "the perfect punch."
Two years later, Fullmer won the NBA middleweight title by scoring a 14th-round knockout of Carmen Basilio. Seven successful title defenses followed. In that span, he beat Spider Webb, Basilio, Robinson, Florentino Fernandez and Benny Paret and fought to draws against Robinson (in their fourth and final fight) and Joey Giardello.
His reign as middleweight champion ended in 1962 with a 15-round loss against Dick Tiger. Theu fought a rematch in 1963 and the bout ended in a draw. A third match follwed and Fullmer retired after getting knocked out in the seventh round.
Gene Fullmer took Sugar Ray Robinson's Sunday punches for 15 murderous rounds last night and then proceeded to take Robinson's world middleweight title. The glamour attached to Robinson's name drew a pre-war crowd of 18,134 into Madison Square Garden and in effect it watched two triumphs. The first belonged to the wonderfully strong young welder from West Jordan. Utah; the other went to the old fellow with the scythe who has taken out better men than Sugar Ray and will continue to do so. He robbed Robinson of the superb timing that had compiled: such an illustrious record in a 140-fight career. He sapped the spring from Robinson's legs.
He turned Robinson, at 35 or 36, depending on who you listen to, into a tired old man, fistic-wise battling desperately against a rival who knew no weariness, who absorbed Robinson's best combinations, who shrugged off a dozen of booming rights to the heart.
There was no question about who won this one even though there was some booing at the end. It was unanimous on the part of: both judges and Ruby Goldstein, the referee Frank Forbes had Fullmer the victor, 10 rounds to five. The other judge. Harold Barnes had it 9 and 6. Goldstein scored it 8 and 5 and 2 rounds even. The New York Herald Tribune's scorecard had it eight and seven for Fullmer, with the last round going to Sugar Ray despite his harrowing appearance, bloodied from a cut over his left eye and completely punched-out against a rival who was 10 years old when Sugar Ray had his first professional fight.
THREE TIMES Sugar Ray had been the middleweight champion of the world. There is a return clause in the pact under which last night's bout was fought, a 90- day stipulation. Ray may try for no. 4 some time this spring, but the movies of this one could have a sobering effect upon, him.
For risking and losing his title, Robinson enjoyed quite a pay-night. He got 47 ½ per cent of the gate of $194,645. and $60.000 of the $100.- 000 paid by the TV sponsors. The fight was blacked out in the New York and Philadelphia area.
The crowd, sensing perhaps that this c o u l d be the last topflight appearance of the Robinson that had thrilled almost two decades of fight-goers came early. It filled the gallery an hour before the fight. It proved the biggest turnout since Bobo Olson fought Randy Turpin here three years ago.
It was Sugar Ray's first New York fight in more than four years. If it was his last, he had this consolation: a rush of Robinson money switched him around to a 6-5 favorite at ring time after the price had dropped steadily from an 8 to 5 a few days earlier for Fullmer.
Fullmer fought for a flat 12 ½ per cent of the gate, and TV revenue was just a vagrant thought as far as he was concerned. If there was any animus in his soul because of the lopsided financial arrangements, or because Robinson had caused the fight lo he postponed from Dec. 12 because of illness, there was sweet revenge for the westerner.
He knocked Robinson down For a six-count in the seventh round; he spun him around like a preliminary boy. He shook off Robinson's booming rights to the body and pressed the attack continually. When Robinson sought to tie him up in close, Fullmer was so strong he simply pulled his arms away and kept up the flailing attack, an awkward appearing style in which he rested his head on Robinson's chest and threw punches from every angle.
One of these caught Robinson over the eye in the sixth or seventh. The slight cut didn't bother him until the last two rounds. Then Robinson underwent the unique experience he had inflicted on so many past opponents fighting with blood dripping into his eye in vision- obscuring fashion.
Fullmer was on the canvas, too.at one stage in the fight but it was while locked in Robinson's embrace. Both fell heavily over the lowest rope just as the sixth round ended. The fall ripped the rope away from its mooring on the opposite stanchion. Emergency repairs gave the battlers an extra minute or two rest between rounds. When it gave further trouble a round or two later Goldstein ordered the lower strand removed entirely.
THERE WAS ONLY one plan of attack open for each fighter and they followed it frantically down to the end. Fullmer, several inches shorter, and with a reach that put him at a disadvantage, sought to close with Robinson constantly. Robinson strove to keep punching room between him and Fullmer. He needed more than punching room; he needed the reflexes that had vanished with years, reflexes which would have enabled him to deliver the devastating blows to the openings obvious to his battle trained eye. The reflexes weren't there; the championship passed to the younger man, and with it an opportunity to make a sizeable sum in his future pugulistic endeavors for Fullmer is the kind of a fighter the crowd likes to see.
He can take a punch, as he demonstrated last night; he can slug with the best. When Robinson punched in dazzling fashion, moving his hands in those ominous piston-like movements that had taken out so many opponents, Fullmer went right along with him. It was Robinson who broke off the jousting. When Robinson's slashing uppercuts failed lo rock Fullmer the old champion was observed moving his lips, talking either to himself or to his opponent, something never before noticed in any of his fights.
Not many men had caused Robinson to back off, to wear a puzzled look in the last half of a fight. A half-dozen years ago perhaps a Fullmer wouldn't have been able to do it, a half dozen years ago Robinson was at the height of a career which almost encompassed three weight championships. Last night he was just another once-superb fighter calling upon some of the old-time magic to pull him through. He couldn't call loudly enough
Robinson Takes Loss Graciously
The loser and old champion took his defeat like a man Wednesday night, disclaiming alibis, but Ray Robinson's managers were loud in their criticism of Gene Fullmer's tactics and the refereeing of Ruby Goldstein.
Seated on a table with his back to a wall, the dethroned Sugar Ray, showing no signs of his vicious 15-round battle with the kid from Utah except an inch-long gash over his left eye, flashed his big smile and tried to answer questions above the chorus of wails from his board of directors.
It became embarrassing to Robinson finally, and he broke in to say positively: "Understand, I have no squawks against Goldstein, Fullmer, or anybody. The only thing I will say is I thought rabbit punching was against the rules.
Sugar Ray declared he never was hurt by the surging Fullmer, whom he described as a rather awkward fighter who would swing a couple of punches as he came in, and then get in close and maul.
Did Ray think Fullmer was a good champion? Robinson laughed. "He won, according to the officials,'' he said. "If he's no good, then I'm no good either. I've seen better champions, and I've seen worse. But he's a good champion. Robinson said with a wry grin that be thought he hit his stocky opponent , some good punches as he came in, "but I guess nobody saw them”
Sugar Ray said he couldn't answer any questions on his future plans—whether he will fight again —but he left the door open by adding: "After all, fighting is my business." He sized up the fight pretty well when someone asked him what he thought cost him the fight. "Fullmer," he answered candidly.