Famous Veterans Birthdays – May 3rd
Birthdays Today (May 3rd):
Born May 3, 1921:
Sugar Ray Robinson – Boxer – (Army – Served beside fellow boxer Jackie Wilson) – Died: April 12, 1989
On February 27, 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army, where he was again referred to as Walker Smith. Robinson had a 15-month military career. Robinson served with Joe Louis, and the pair went on tours where they performed exhibition bouts in front of US troops. Robinson got into trouble several times while in the military. He argued with superiors who he felt were discriminatory against him, and refused to fight exhibitions when he was told African American soldiers were not allowed to watch them. In late March 1944, Robinson was stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, waiting to ship out to Europe, where he was scheduled to perform more exhibition matches. But on March 29, Robinson disappeared from his barracks. When he woke up on April 5 in Fort Jay Hospital on Governor’s Island, he had missed his sailing for Europe and was under suspicion of deserting. He himself reported falling down the stairs in his barracks on the 29th, but said that he had complete amnesia, and he could not remember any events from that moment until the 5th. According to his file, a stranger had found him in the street on April 1 and helped him to a hospital. In his examination report, a doctor at Fort Jay concluded that Robinson’s version of events was sincere. He was examined by military authorities, who claimed he suffered from a mental deficiency. Robinson was granted an honorable discharge on June 3, 1944. He later wrote that unfair press coverage of the incident had “branded” him as a “deserter”. Robinson maintained his close friendship with Louis from their time in military service, and the two went into business together after the war. They planned to start a liquor distribution business in New York City, but were denied a license due to their race.