Ronnie Robinson (roller derby)

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Ronnie Robinson
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1939-09-25)September 25, 1939
Died April 2001 (aged 61–62)
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg)
Sport Roller derby
Team New York Chiefs
Chicago Westerners
Brooklyn Red Devils
San Diego Clippers
Mexico City Cardenales
New England Braves
Chicago Pioneers
Los Angeles Thunderbirds
Turned pro 1958
Retired 1974
Now coaching 1969–1972, 1975, 1991–1992

Ronnie Smith Robinson (25 September 1939[1] – April 2001[2]) was an American roller derby skater and coach.

The son of boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, Robinson grew up distant from his father, who divorced his mother shortly after his birth.[1] Sugar Ray counseled him against following him into the world of boxing.[3] After watching roller derby on television, he decided to join the sport,[1] and enrolled in its training school in March 1958, initially under the pseudonym "Ronald Smith". He turned professional after only five months,[4] being placed on the New York Chiefs team.[5] In the early years of his career, he also skated with the Chicago Westerners, Brooklyn Red Devils, Braves, San Diego Clippers and Mexico City Cardenales.[unreliable source?][6]

Robinson was the third African American to play roller derby professionally, after George Copeland and Darlene Anderson. He received numerous plaudits, being named for the All-Star team for more than ten years in a row, and was twice named the Most Valuable Player.[4] On one occasion, Robinson fractured his arm in several places, and was unsure whether he would ever be able to use it again.[3] He also lost his front teeth in a fight with Bob Woodbury, and suffered several concussions.[4]

From 1969 to 1972, Robinson also acted as a coach[4] for the New England Braves.[unreliable source?][6] He then acted as a player representative and men's captain for the Chicago/Midwest Pioneers in 1972 and 1973.[unreliable source?][6][7] The promotion ended in 1973, and he then signed with the California Thunderbirds for 1974.[8][unreliable source?][6] The following year, Robinson joined the Roller Stars league, but soon moved to coach for the World Skating Derby. His final return was as a coach in the International Roller Skating Derby.[unreliable source?][6]

In 2004, Robinson was inducted to the Roller Derby Hall of Fame.[9]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ken Monte
International Roller Derby League Male MVP[10]
Succeeded by
Tony Roman


  1. ^ a b c [page needed] Herb Royd and Ray Robinson, Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson.
  2. ^ Bill Gallo, "These Debates Can Be Hair-Raising", New York Daily News, 22 April 2001.
  3. ^ a b Chester Higgins, "People Are Talking About", Jet, 4 February 1971, p. 42.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Old Brawl Game", Ebony, November 1973, pp. 56-62.
  5. ^ "Sugar Ray's Skating Son", Ebony, October 1960, p. 65.
  6. ^ a b c d e [unreliable source?] Phil Berrier, "Ronnie Robinson", Derby Memoirs.
  7. ^ "Roller Derby Saturday at Arena". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 20, 1972.
  8. ^ "High-Salaried Skate Aces Here". The Montreal Gazette. February 26, 1974.
  9. ^ "Events & Inductees". Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  10. ^ Keith Coppage, Roller Derby to RollerJam, p.123