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Looking back: Robin Blake

Blake fought for a world title in 1985

 

By Bill Tibbs

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Robin
Robin

He never scored the world title win that many predicted for him as the red-hot Texas tornado that was tearing through the lightweight division in the 1980’s. However, he did challenge for one and left the game with an impressive resume that saw him battle, and beat, some of the best of his time in the 135-pound class.

 

Blake entered the pro ranks after an outstanding amateur career that saw him amass 300 fights. He was on the brink of Olympic glory in 1980 when he passed on an offer to go to Poland with the team that, (while a blessing for Blake) sadly, saw the entire flight killed in a tragic air crash.

 

Levelland, Texas’ Robin Blake turned pro in 1981 and would fight for 9 years before retiring in 1990 with a record of 33-8 with 21 opponents not hearing the final bell. He entered the ring to the Jackson 5’s R ‘n B classic, “Rockin” Robin and he sported a pair of pink boxing trunks – somewhat flashy for the time. Nevertheless, once the bell rang, the lanky 5’ 11” Blake worked behind a hard jab to complement the power in both his right cross and left hook in his dogged, determined attack.

 

By 1983, Blake had worked his way to a 22-0 record and looked poised for a title shot at then-champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini who, although very tough and massively popular, might have been the right opponent style-wise for Blake. Coming off his 21st and 22nd wins against future world title challengers Tony Baltazar and Melvin Paul, at this point, all Blake seemingly had to do was wait for the call for his title shot. However, this is where things hit a bump.

 

Blake, training alongside well known, world class Texas fighters, and future world champions like Donald Curry, Gene Hatcher and Steve Cruz out of manager Dave Gorman’s Super Pro’s Gym in Fort Worth Texas, also looked to be a lock as a future world champion. However, in the fall of 1983, 3 weeks after his previous bout, Blake lost a decision to slick-ster Tyrone “The Butterfly” Crawley, a fighter who had the perfect style to foil the slower, albeit stronger, Blake. After his first loss, he followed that fight up with another decision loss to future world champion Harry Arroyo 3 months later.

 

Then, over the next year, he rattled off 5 more wins that landed him a shot at champion Jimmy Paul who was fighting out of Detroit, Michigan under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward at the famed Kronk Gym. In June of 1985, in his only world title shot, Blake would be stopped by the tough and talented Paul who was defending his IBF world lightweight title.

 

After Blake’s world title fight, he stayed out of the ring for 8 months, a long break for the normally busy Blake. He then returned in February of 1986 but would drop a decision to Olympic star, and future champion, Meldrick Taylor who was 9-0 heading into their bout.

 

From the summer of ’86, until his retirement 4 years later, he would fight 10 times; going 6-4. But, it appeared the page had turned on his career. He never did challenge for a world title again, but he did put in a very spirited and impressive effort against NABF champion Harold Brazier in March of 1988, with Blake dropping the champion before he himself was stopped in the 9th round. Then, after being stopped by future world champion Niko Khumalo in the summer of 1990, Blake retired.

 

Maxboxing reached out to Blake on several occasions for an interview, but, when he finally did get back to me, he politely declined. Blake replied saying, “Thank you for the interest in my career, but I am not interested in doing an interview”.

 

After leaving the ring, Blake, married and a father, became a law enforcement officer in Texas. Blake was an exciting and fan-friendly fighter who can, and should, look back on his outstanding career with pride.

 

Thanks for some great nights under the lights Robin!

 

 

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