A name is just a name. Most people keep their name unchanged, but some change it due to certain reasons. The reasons could be personal, religious, astrological, and commercial. A lot of sportsmen have changed their names. Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jeff Pendergraph to Jeff Ayres and so on.
There have been legendary boxers in the history of the game that changed their names before or during their professional career. I have discussed them today and revealed the reason for their name change.
#1. Eligio Sardinas Montalvo to Kid Chocolate
Widely considered a boxer with incredible boxing talent. He took part in the lightweight division and won the world championship by defeating Benny Bass. Sugar Ray Robinson admired him and learned a lot from his boxing style.
He carved a niche for himself by defeating world champions like Fidel LaBarba, Al Singer, and Vic Burrone. Eligio changed his name to Kid Chocolate when he entered the world of professional boxing.
#2. James Joseph Tunney to Gene Tunney
James was an American boxer, born in Ireland. He fought in the light heavyweight and heavyweight division, and won the world title four times, from 1922 to 1928. Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey, Georges Carpentier, and Harry Greb.
James changed his name to Gene Tunney very early in life, and they nicknamed him “The Fighting Marine.”
#3. William Harrison Dempsey to Jack Dempsey
William was born in Colorado and became the world heavyweight champion in 1919. He remained unbeaten for the next 7 years. William had tremendous punching ability, and they consider him as one of the best boxers of all time.
He fought as Jack Dempsey and was one of the sporting icons of the 1920s. Besides boxing, his main contribution was being a soldier in the World War II. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954.
#4. Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior to Muhammad Ali
Considered as the best heavyweight boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali was born in Kentucky as Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior. Ali grew up at a time when America was burning due to racial segregation which played a major role in his life. He defeated legendary boxers such as Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, and Sonny Liston to become the WBC heavyweight champion.
Clay met his spiritual mentor Malcolm X who brought him into the fold of Islam while fighting against racial discrimination. He then changed his name to Muhammad Ali (One worthy of high praise).
#5. Walker Smith Junior to Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar was born as Walker Smith Junior in Georgia. He was a welterweight and middleweight champion whose professional record stood at 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts. Walker defeated Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong, and Sammy Angott to become the world champion.
He changed his name to Sugar Ray Robinson to bag his first fight as an amateur boxer in 1936. Muhammad Ali wanted him as a mentor when he was preparing for his world heavyweight championship bouts.