Market Square, Warwick, England
1951 was a big year for Randolph Turpin. He’d been doing pretty well in his career as a middleweight boxer until then, but on 10 July 1951, he defeated one of the greatest boxers of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson. Overnight, Randolph Turpin, born and bred in the Warwickshire town of Leamington Spa, had become a hero. But when the men met again two months on in September 1951, Sugar Ray won his title back. Randolph’s days as world champion had been brief. His career went into decline. Before long, he’d not only lost his world title, but his European title, too. And soon, he was losing more matches than he was winning. By 1962, he’d retired and bought himself a pub. His days as a national hero were long gone, but Randolph continued to live like one. When the money started to run dry, he turned to professional wrestling for extra income, and he even took a job in a scrapyard. It was too little too late. The Inland Revenue had pursued him for years over unpaid taxes. He was finally declared bankrupt in 1966. Randolph Turpin shot himself dead soon afterwards. For a short time, Randolph had been the most famous man in the country. Which for a poor boy of British and Guyananese heritage in the 1950s was a pretty remarkable achievement. One that made his death at only 37 all the more tragic.