Randolph Turpin

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        Icon. Iconography. When I think of Randy Turpin (1928-66) I prefer to think of him by his full name, Randolph Turpin. It seems more poetic, sounds more like some kind of romantic highwayman from centuries before, a charismatic, distant figure, forever in the shadows of black & white. In boxing for me he is a mythical figure ... what he did in beating one of the greatest fighters ever elevates him far far beyond any other British fighter and indeed just for that, even now some 60+ years later, he should still be one of the biggest names in British sport. Lordy, how many British fighters have beaten true boxing Gods? How his life unfolded thereafter is the source of such pain & sorrow it makes it hard just to think about never mind read...

        randy turpin
        Randolph Turpin

        • Occupation: Boxing God (must of been on his passport, surely?)
        • Real Name: Randolph Adolphus Turpin
        • Nickname: The Leamington Licker
        • Weight: Middleweight, Light heavyweight
        • Height: 5 ft 9 1/2 in (1.77 m)
        • Reach: 74 1/2 in (189 cm)
        • Nationality: English
        • Born: June 7, 1928, Leamington, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
        • Died: May 17, 1966 (aged 37), Leamington, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
        • Stance: Orthodox

          Boxing Record

        • Total fights: 75
        • Wins: 66
        • Wins by KO: 45
        • Losses: 8
        • Draws: 1
        • No Contests: 0


        A balmy summer night, Earl's Court, London, 1951. 18,000 fans packed therein - not a spare ticket to be had. For those unable to be there, for those like my father too young to even think about attending there was the only the radio. It seems a whole nation crouched around one giant radio hoping against hope, waiting for the man to fight their man, the God of fighters, a dazzling icon who on a European tour was just about to beat up our valiant warrior.

        Sugar Ray Robinson.

        The original sugarman. Skills as sweet as candy. Fast, flashy, a treasure trove of glimmering brilliance. The American in the pink Cadillac. Pound-for-pound the best boxer that ever walked the planet. Not my opinion: it belongs to the one and only Joe Louis. Make no mistake, those who have come after and laid claim to that title only do so precisely because they have come after. Just because it is now a distant time and can only be witnessed in flickering, ghostlike film doesn't mean anyone who came after was better; it just means we can see them better. The advent of colour, the advent of TV, heroes in our boxes, in our homes, every generation throwing up the best pound-for-pound fighter. Sugar Ray Leonard was not the best just because he was in colour. Take a step back and recall the man forever in black and white. What he did,; how he did it, means you will realise he is the man.

        Sugar Ray Robinson was the best. He was also at his peak when this fight came around. 132 professional fights up to then with only one loss.

        The British fans came more in hope than expectancy for their man, The Leamington Licker, was given no chance. Randolph Adolphus Turpin. Tension and excitement hung in the air, filling the radiowaves. For one night a whole nation held its breath and hoped against hope that the impossible could be possible. If not then the people inside the arena could say they were once in the same building as the icon of icons. Just to be in the same postcode would be reward enough.

        In 15 rounds Turpin did the impossible. He outboxed the master in a sensational fight. He tore the world title away from the best on a points decision. Britain rejoiced. 'For He's A Jolly Good Fellow' echoed across the land. A hero was born. King George V excused himself from a dinner party at Buckingham Palace to listen to the fight and returned, saying excitedly: "He's won! He's won!". 20,000 turned up to see his truimphant return to Leamington and Warwick. 'Everything he did wrong-right' as Sugar described Turpin meant the man from Leamington achieved the greatest feat in British boxing history and one of the greatest achievements by any British sportsman. Mo Farah , great as you are, you are not Randy Turpin. No-one could be.

        He climbed the Everest of British sport while others have climbed Ben Nevis in comparison.

        There was a re-match clause in the contract that took place two months later at New York Polo Grounds.in front of a crowd of 67,000 which remains a record for a middleweight fight. Turpin lost his title in 10 rounds though I have seen the fight on tape and he still fought well. What this proved was Randy was at home with the greats. Still only 23, he already had the two defining moments of his career. His life was touched with tragedy every bit as compelling as his contemporary, 'The Raging Bull' Jake LaMotta.

        Randolph Adolphus Turpin was the son of the first black immigrant to the English spa town of Leamington. As well as World Champion his career also saw him win the British, Commonwealth and European titles. He knocked out Don Cockell for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title. He returned to New York for a second attempt at the world championship vacated by Robinson but suffered a 15-round defeat to Carl Bobo Olsen.

        At 30 he retired, suffering from depression as his fame and fortune dissipated. Though he returned 2 years later the comeback lasted only two fights So short of cash by this time he tried fairground wrestling and took the tenancy of a public house in North Wales to prevent bankruptcy. Tragically, he shot himself in 1966, one month short of his 38th birthday.

        Thanks to his fans a beautiful statue of was unveiled in 2001 of Randolph Adolphus Turpin in Warwick where he was brought up. 50 years after that epic night.

        With his brothers he was Britain's boxing greatest family. Sadly with the passing of his brother Jackie in 2010 the last link to these legends of the ring was lost.


        There are many things I don't understand about the legend of Randolph Turpin. For one, why was he allowed to descend into poverty? Couldn't have promoters done more, boxing done more to help him? He gave Britain one of its greatest moments and it seems disgraceful to hear of his descent into his own private hell.

        Then what I can't understand for the life of me is why he is not remembered more these days. He should be with the pantheons of British sport, not a footnote in its history. Would it have been asking to much if a mention of him or a ghostlike sepia image appeared of Turpin at the opening ceremony of the London Olymic Games? In recognition of a British sporting demi-God. Maybe it's because he died so young that people have forgotten him so quickly. But why isnt there a website dedicated to him? Now that is just plain lazy. At least with the creation of such a website there would be a staring point, a place where this legend can be discovered or re-discovered. I'm not sure if I'm the only person who thinks like this but there was much much more to Randy Turpin than you can find on the web.

        Well if no-one want to do it then I for one would be more than happy to do it. But I would need help from people out there to make it worthwhile. You know peoples' recollections of the great man, scans of memorabilia, photos, press clippings etc. etc. Something to build up from nothing into something worthwhile; something to elevate him to the status of, say, Jake LaMotta where he deserves to be at the very least. For the years when he was at the top of his career are the years the cliches of 'Lords of the Rings' and 'When They Were Kings' apply: Randolph Turpin, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio (who sadly died in November), Gene Fullmer, Kid Gavilán & Rocky Graziano. And think about it: the only British name up there with those greats is Turpin's.

        So if anyone out there can fill in the blanks then just e-mail me here. ihuppert5@aol.com

        Paul Page, December, 2012


        The Tragedy of Randolph Turpin


        R A N D O L P H  T U R P I N

        randolph turpin
        Randolph Turpin

        randolph turpin
        Randolph Turpin

        Statue of the Boxer Randolph Turpin, Market Place, Warwick, Warwickshire, England
        Statue of the Boxer Randolph Turpin, Market Place, Warwick, Warwickshire, England

        Randy Turpin signed items @ ebay.com (direct link to signed items) - grab yourself a Turpin treasure


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