On This Day: Boxer Randolph Turpin kills himself after trying to murder daughter

Julian Gavaghan
Yahoo News.

MAY 17, 1966: One of Britain’s first mixed race boxers Randolph Turpin committed suicide after trying to murder his 17-month-old daughter amid money worries on this day in 1966.

The 37-year-old, who had recently been declared bankrupt after failing to pay a huge tax bill, shot little Carmen twice before blasting himself in the mouth.

Miraculously, the toddler survived the attack in the loft of their home above a café in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

Married father-of-four Turpin, who famously beat Sugar Ray Robinson to become world middleweight champion in 1951, is thought to have been depressed.

He had struggled with money since finally retiring from boxing in 1962 after an unsuccessful return to the ring due to business failures during a three-year hiatus.

He was reduced to fighting as a wrestler and working in a scrap yard before the Inland Revenue landed the final blow by pursuing him for years of unpaid back taxes.

Despite his life’s tragic ending, Turpin had briefly been one of the most famous men in Britain and was formerly an inspiration for many ethnic minorities.


He was born in Leamington in 1928 to a black Guyanan father and white English mother at a time when there were almost no people of mixed race in the country.

Yet he refused to let the bullies win and, encouraged by his older brother Dick, he began boxing at aged 12 and, following a promising start, turned professional at 18.

He knocked out Gordon Griffiths in his first bout and went on to win all but two of his earliest 44 pro fights.

















 

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In 1948, his older brother, whose shared name with the highway robber Dick Turpin made him a press favourite, became the first non-white boxer to win a British title.

The following year, Dick lost his British and Commonwealth middleweight belt to Albert Finch.

Randolph Turpin avenged his brother’s defeat and reclaimed family honour by knocking Finch out in five rounds in 1950, becoming champion himself.


Soon afterwards, he followed this feat by winning the European title by putting Dutchman Luc Van Dam on the canvas in just 48 seconds.

This earned him the attention of promoters in America,who arranged for him to fight Sugar Ray Robinson, who is today frequently cited as the greatest boxer in history.

Turpin won the world title after beating the great man on a 15-round decision during a bout in London on July 10, 1951.









 

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He became an instant celebrity and, for a brief period, spent each day being besieged by fans at his training base at Gwrych Castle near Abergele in North Wales.

But his national hero status did not last long. In a rematch with Robinson in the U.S. – Turpin’s first overseas fight –the dazzling American won his belt back.

A British Pathé newsreel filmed Turpin telling the British public that ‘I did my best’ and that he was happy to be taking back the ‘good wishes of the American people’.


Robinson, who was lauded by Muhammad Ali as ‘my idol, went on to win world titles five times during his career, which included an astonishing 108 knockouts.

But, from then on, Turpin’s own career went into decline.

He finally retired with a record of 66 wins – including 48 by knockout – against eight losses and a single draw.

In many ways, his life mirrors that of British heavyweight boxer Freddie ‘Fearless’ Mills, who shot himself at age 46 in 1965.











 

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His life had also taken a turn for the worst after retiring when he became friends with London gangsters the Kray Twins and opened a night club that ultimately failed.

Experts have also blamed heavy blows to the heads and repeated concussion for high depression rates among boxers.

A total of 15 championship-winning fighters are known to have committed suicide since 1928.



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