International Boxing Hall of Fame
"The Leamington Licker"
Randolph Adolphus ('Randy') Turpin (June 7, 1928 – May 17, 1966) known as The Leamington Licker, was an English boxer who was considered by some to be Europe's best Middleweight boxer of the 1940s and 1950s.
Born in Leamington Spa, Turpin turned professional in London in 1946, a little after turning 18, and he knocked out Gordon Griffiths in his first bout. He was trained by his elder brother Dick, who himself was a successful middleweight, being British and Commonwealth champion. Turpin put together a string of 16 wins in a row until drawing in 6 rounds versus Mark Hart in his last bout of 1947. He boxed all over Britain during that streak.
Three wins later, he found himself facing Albert Finch, who inflicted on Turpin his first defeat, an 8-round decision loss. After one more win, he lost again, knocked out in 5 rounds by Jean Stock, also in London.
Turpin was determined not to lose again after the Stock defeat, and put together another string of wins, which reached 12 (including a 4 round disqualification win against William Poli), and he was rematched with Finch, this time with the British Middleweight title on the line. Turpin avenged his first loss and won his first championship by knocking Finch out in 5 rounds.
Three more wins followed, including a disqualification win in 8 rounds against important challenger Tommy Yarosz, and then he met European Middleweight champion Luc Van Dam in London, whom he knocked out in the first round to seize the European championship.
Four wins followed after that, including a rematch with Stock, against whom he avenged his second defeat, knocking him out in 5 rounds. Then world Middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson travelled to London and on July 10, 1951 risked his title against Turpin, who won the world title by beating Robinson on a 15-round decision.
Turpin became an instant national hero. His win over Robinson gave him such celebrity that even many people who were not boxing fans knew who he was, and when he signed for a rematch with Robinson and chose Gwrych Castle near Abergele in North Wales to train for it, the castle was constantly hounded by tourists, curious and fans who came to get a glimpse of the World Middleweight champion.
His days as a world champion didn't last long, however, and when he made his first trip outside his homeland for a fight, he lost his crown to Robinson by a tenth round TKO with eight seconds left in the round at the Polo Grounds in New York.
This turned out to be the beginning of Turpin's problems, because he would begin to miss the sweet life that being a world boxing champion gave him.
He tried to regain his former status, and three fights later, beat Don Cockell in 11 rounds by a knockout to conquer the British Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title. Cockell later turned into a good Heavyweight who once challenged Rocky Marciano for the World Heavyweight title.
He went back down in weight, and beat Georges Angelo to regain his British Middleweight title, and put on another string of wins, leading to his challenge of Bobo Olson for the World Middleweight title that Robinson had left vacant after retiring. His second trip to New York turned into another 15 round defeat, this time at the hands of Olson.
He kept trying mightily as he could to regain his former condition as a world champion and even retained his British Middleweight title a few times in his next ten fights, but he lost two of them to obscure opponents.
After that, he managed another winning streak against some obscure boxers, but by 1958 it was clear his best days in boxing were long over. He lost that year to Yolande Pompey, another future world title challenger, by a knockout in 2 rounds in Birmingham, and retired in 1959.
In 1962, he began another comeback, but the comeback only lasted 2 fights, both of which he won, the last one being held in Malta.
He retired with a record of 66 wins, 8 losses and 1 draw. Of his 66 wins, 48 came by knockout.
According to articles, reports and a biography, Turpin couldn't deal with the obscurity resulting from the loss of his crown, which was why he committed suicide by gunshot in 1966. He supposedly tried to kill his daughter also, on the same day.
Warwick in Warwickshire, England, has a statue of him within the market square in his honour. Also in Llandudno in Wales, there is a pub dedicated to his memory at the town's highest point, with several genuine artefacts from his career within. Between 1952 and 1961, he was the registered licensee. [www.llandudno.com]
Sugar Ray Robinson
10 Jul 1951– 12 Sep 1951
Sugar Ray Robinson