Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero” as Want to Read:
Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

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

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  11 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Strong Boy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Strong Boy

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  125 ratings  ·  11 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero
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
Vincent T. 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
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
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.
Dick Hamilton
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent story about America's first sports superstar, well worth the time for the fan of boxing, and an excellent book on boxing as well. ...more
Drew Zagorski
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, sports
One of the better boxing bios I've read... ...more
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
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
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
Brian McDonald
rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2015
Reed Heneks
rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2020
David Tavernier
rated it it was amazing
Sep 06, 2014
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
rated it it was amazing
Apr 17, 2015
Matt Astin
rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2016
Cody Kiroff
rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2020
David Hooker
rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2020
rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2014
Harvey Meeker
rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2017
rated it really liked it
Apr 17, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2019
rated it really liked it
Jun 06, 2015
rated it really liked it
Feb 12, 2017
John Wallen
rated it it was amazing
Oct 10, 2014
Michael Kershner
rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2017
Burleigh Netzky
rated it it was amazing
Jun 25, 2016
Peter Wood
rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2018
rated it liked it
Mar 11, 2015
paul rymer
rated it it was amazing
Jun 19, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Order (Gabriel Allon #20)
  • The Housekeeper
  • Deadly Vengeance (Detective Jane Phillips, #3)
  • The Queen's Man (John Shakespeare, #6)
  • Hank: A Western
  • Dempsey
  • Stolen Children (DCI Matilda Darke Thriller, Book 6)
  • Cully: Justice Served: (Cully the Bounty Hunter - Book 2)
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
  • Lured in the Woods
  • A Man Named Cully: (Cully the Bounty Hunter - Book 1)
  • The Malta Exchange (Cotton Malone, #14)
  • Game of Snipers
  • A Survey of the Authorized Version
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (from the Terrible Turk to Twitter)
  • Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space
  • Cast No Shadow (Star Trek)
  • The Plot Against America
See similar books…


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

Related Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
62 likes · 17 comments