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Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  9 reviews
“I can lick any son-of-a-bitch in the world.”

So boasted John L. Sullivan, the first modern heavyweight boxing champion of the world, a man who was the gold standard of American sport for more than a decade, and the first athlete to earn more than a million dollars. He had a big ego, big mouth, and bigger appetites. His womanizing, drunken escapades, and chronic police-blot
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Dann LaGratta
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After seeing the "Overly Manly Man" meme pop up on FB a little while back, I decided to look into who he actually was. The name that Google fed me was "John L. Sullivan" (JLS). Comparing the pictures now, I believe that my Google-Fu was weak, but it did provide me with the name of one of the MANLIEST SONS OF BITCHES WHO EVER LIVED. Wikipedia him for yourself, if you think that I'm a liar.

Now "manley" has been redefined over the years to mean something less than it used to. It's become watered d
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Vince Ciaramella
This was one of the best books that I've read in months. I've always had an interest in this era of boxing and especially John L Sullivan. My great-great grandfather was a featherweight fighter named Jack McCelland "The Pride of Pittsburgh" who fought around the same time as Sullivan (though they never met in the ring) and reading this book really brought to life a bygone era of crazy fight locations, London Prize Ring rules, handlebar mustached fighters, and just the strange laws and attitudes ...more
Michael
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bellowing, blustering, old John L.
Fearing nothing 'tween sky and hell!
Rushing, roaring, swinging his right.
Smashing, crashing, forcing the fight.
Battering foes until they fell,
Tilt your glasses to old John L!
----Robert E Howard

John L Sullivan or John L for short was the first American Superstar athlete. He brought boxing from the old bareknuckle fights to the modern era of boxing. He was the son of Irish Immigrants who settled in South Boston and became known as the "Boston Strong Boy" because
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victor harris
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, biography
A biography that has some punch to it. Entertaining, no holds-barred account of Sullivan, considered to be the first legitimate heavyweight champion. As one of the major post-Civil War celebrities, Sullivan lived a life of excess in the ring, with women, and with the bottle. It would be the latter which would prove to be his undoing as his alcohol addiction led to abusive conduct in his domestic and public relationships, frequent run-ins with the law, and contributed to inflating his stomach and ...more
Eric Parker
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abraham Thunderwolf
A must read for anyone who's interested in boxing, American culture in the late 18th and early 19th century, and The Great Outdoor Fight. The book is full of characters that are seemingly made up, people like Wild Bill, Theodore Roosevelt, Jack Johnson, among many others. Of course let's not forgot John L Sullivan. I'm sure you'd recognize The picture of him, hair slicked with pomade, thick mustache curled up, fist casually raised up for fisticuffs. Sure he was kind of a jerk, a racist, and a dr ...more
Ben
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, signed
I received this book for free via Goodreads First Reads.

Fantastic book. A definite must-read for boxing fans, sports fans, Irish Americans, and generally fans of biographies and interesting people. Christopher Klein has a clean good prose that makes it easily accessible to both sporting/boxing fans and non-fans alike. He holds nothing back and besides the segments near the end about John L. and the color line, Klein is very unbiased in his portrayal of John L. He totals and depicts both the good
...more
Michael
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
"Strong Boy" is a fascinating and well-researched look at the life of John L. Sullivan. Having only knowing of Sullivan as a boxer, I was surprised to learn about the variety of endeavours that John L took part in during his life. Klein does an excellent job of providing context as the reader is informed and reminded about people and society in Boston and the United States during John L’s time, over a hundred years ago. Highly recommended for fans of boxing, biographies, or Boston!
Please note t
...more
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I’m a total history geek. Favorite historical figure: Teddy Roosevelt. Favorite historical event: the Defenestration of Prague. (Go ahead, Google it.) I love writing about history because it allows me to indulge my passion, travel back in time, and constantly learn more about humanity’s incredible backstory. History helps t
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