Gene Fullmer, a tough, durable boxer who twice won the world middleweight championship in the 1950s and whose Hall of Fame career included four title fights with Sugar Ray Robinson, died April 27 at a care facility in Taylorsville, Utah. He was 83.

He had Alzheimer’s disease, a nephew, Larry Fullmer, told the Associated Press.

Fullmer was the eldest of three brothers from rural Utah who became professional boxers. In his first fight with Robinson, in January 1957, he won the middleweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden by a unanimous decision.

In a rematch four months later in Chicago, Robinson reclaimed his crown with a fifth-round knockout, which became known to boxing historians as “the perfect punch.” It was the only time in four matches — all of them title bouts — Fullmer would lose to Robinson, a six-time world champion who is considered by many the greatest boxer in history.

Fullmer, who stood a stocky 5 feet 8 and weighed between 155 and 160 pounds, had a plodding, brawling style that was brutally effective. He relentlessly stalked his foe, absorbing blows while launching an assortment of punches from unorthodox angles. He was rugged, hard to knock down and had exceptional stamina.

“My philosophy was to move forward and swing,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1997.

In 1959, Robinson’s middleweight crown was vacated because he hadn’t defended it within the past year. Fullmer then won the title for a second time, defeating ex-champion Carmen Basilio with a 14th-round technical knockout.

During the three years he was champion, Fullmer defended his title seven times, and the Boxing Writers Association of America named him Fighter of the Year in 1961. He had two more bouts with Robinson, fighting him to a draw in 1960 and winning a 15-round decision in 1961.

Fullmer lost his title to Nigerian boxer Dick Tiger in 1962. After facing Tiger two more times in 1963, resulting in a draw and a loss, Fullmer retired from the ring. He had a 55-6-3 record, including 24 knockouts. He appeared in 13 middleweight championship fights.

Lawrence Gene Fullmer was born July 21, 1931, in Bingham Canyon, Utah. He went by his middle name, in honor of Gene Tunney, a heavyweight champion of the 1920s.

His father, a rancher who had been an amateur boxer, built an outdoor ring at the family home in West Jordan, Utah.

Gene Fullmer had his first amateur fight when he was 8 and became a professional boxer in 1951. A younger brother, Don, was a top middleweight contender in the 1960s. A middle brother, Jay, was an outstanding professional lightweight and welterweight boxer.

Throughout his boxing career, Gene Fullmer held other jobs, including as a mink rancher and welder at a copper mine. He served in the Army during the Korean War.

Fullmer was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991. A 1999 poll conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune named him the greatest athlete born in Utah.

He was a Mormon elder and was president of the Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves amateur boxing organization. In his later years, he and his brothers operated a boxing gym in West Jordan.

Don Fullmer died in 2012; Jay Fullmer died April 22.

Fullmer’s first wife, Dolores Holt Fullmer, died in 1983 after 37 years of marriage. Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Karen Davey Fullmer of West Jordan; four children from his first marriage; two stepchildren; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Although Fullmer defeated Robinson twice and fought him to a draw another time, his most memorable fight may have been the one he lost in 1957.

In the fifth round of their second bout, Fullmer was leading on the judges’ scorecards when Robinson hit him flush on the chin with a left hook. Fullmer reeled backward, fell to the canvas and was counted out by the referee.

“In all the history of boxing,” Martin Kane wrote in Sports Illustrated, “the perfect punch never has been so well-delivered with so much at stake.”

In 1997, Ring magazine called Robinson’s left hook the greatest knockout punch in boxing history.

When Fullmer recovered his senses after the knockout blow, he saw Robinson dancing in the opposite corner.

“How come Sugar Ray’s doing exercises between rounds?” he asked his manager, Marv Jenson.

“It’s not between rounds,” Jenson replied. “The ref counted to 10.”