Randolph Turpin: The Forgotten Man of English Boxing
By Simon Graham
Back when my son was a 6-year-old, I took him on a weekend trip to Llandudno, we were there to watch the annual Steam Festival and Carnival suffice to say we had a pretty good time especially for me as the trip also unearthed a welcome surprise.
Now Llandudno is not a place you would associate with a former world champion however a quick trip up the Great Orme and you surprisingly find a restaurant/ bar once owned by the great Randolph Turpin, the place is covered with memorabilia highlighting his career.
Randolph Adolphus Turpin was born June 1928 in Leamington Spa Warwickshire his early life was spent fighting his brother Jackie in boxing booths at local fairs and carnivals they would collect the money thrown to them in the ring to earn a meagre wage, he went on to achieve great amateur success winning National titles, he was the only boxer (at that time) to win both the junior and senior titles in the same year.
He joined the Navy and learned how to be chef but was given special privileges to compete in the Navy Boxing arena, after leaving the Navy he turned Pro in 1946 kicking of his impressive record with 17 wins.
After suffering 2 defeats Turpin added weight training exercises to his boxing programme to bulk himself up, while weight training was frowned upon by old time trainers Turpin developed a muscular physique, immense strength but more importantly formidable punching power in either hand, he was clearly an exception to the weight training rule.
Turpin went on a 22-fight winning streak avenging both his defeats and picked up both the British and European middleweight titles, knocking out opponent after opponent with deadly accuracy and freakish punching power Turpin was a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile the fresh new world middleweight champion on the European leg of his tour was matched to fight Turpin in London in his second defence of the title, a fight many though Turpin could not win. Robinson had fought 132 times as a professional with one defeat and that was to Jake LaMotta, many feared for the welfare of the Englishman.
From the opening bell the supremely confident Turpin took the fight to Robinson, the usually slick dangerous champion had no answer to his challengers left leads, right hooks and sheer power, round after round Turpin out boxed, out muscled and out thought the Sugar man, it was a masterclass display.
In the return on US soil Robinson would reverse his defeat with a 10th round TKO however the bubble had been burst, although he continued to fight elite fighters with further losses the fight world knew Robinson could be hurt and furthermore beaten.
For 64 days Turpin became a superstar the toast of British fight fans, never comfortable with the limelight he would go on to finish his career in 1964 with a record of 64 fights 45 Kos with only 8 losses.
During and after boxing Turpin fought personal demons with a much publicised demise, I’d rather not touch on that subject but instead remember the man for the fantastic boxer that he was, a true
British icon that for whatever reason never seems to get the recognition or plaudits he deserves outside of his home town, that is unless you fancy a walk up the Great Orme.
Randy Turpin should be remembered as one of the greats to enter the ring his fight against the greatest ever pound for pound fighter Sugar Ray Robinson is perhaps the finest performance by a British boxer.