Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero (Paperback)Christopher Klein (author)
Paperback 384 Pages / Published: 01/03/2015
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Now in paperback! "From the first page to the last, Klein's prose retains its powers of enchantment and illumination. It is one of the best boxing books ever penned." -Boston Globe "[A] muscular, relentlessly detailed book." -Wall Street Journal "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-blotter presence were godsends to a burgeoning newspaper industry. The larger-than-life boxer embodied the American Dream for late nineteenth-century immigrants as he rose from Boston's Irish working class to become the most recognizable man in the nation. In the process, the "Boston Strong Boy" transformed boxing from outlawed bare-knuckle fighting into the gloved spectacle we know today. Strong Boy tells the story of America's first sports superstar, a self-made man who personified the power and excesses of the Gilded Age. Everywhere John L. Sullivan went, his fists backed up his bravado. Sullivan's epic brawls, such as his 75-round bout against Jake Kilrain, and his cross-country barnstorming tour in which he literally challenged all of America to a fight are recounted in vivid detail, as are his battles outside the ring with a troubled marriage, wild weight and fitness fluctuations, and raging alcoholism. Strong Boy gives readers ringside seats to the colorful tale of one of the country's first Irish-American heroes and the birth of the American sports media and the country's celebrity obsession with athletes.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 508 g
Dimensions: 230 x 151 x 20 mm
"From the first page to the last, Klein's prose retains its powers of enchantment and illumination. It is one of the best boxing books ever penned." -Boston Globe "In this muscular, relentlessly detailed book, Christopher Klein not only tells Sullivan's story but also documents the evolution of boxing from illicit bare-knuckle savagery akin to today's steel-cage extravaganzas to the `sweet science' of legally sanctioned bouts between skillful gloved opponent." -Wall Street Journal "John L. Sullivan was perhaps the first real American sports superstar, and especially because he meant so much as a minority champion, he prefigured Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King and the many other athletes who became genuine heroes to the people they represented. The Great John L. is as important a cultural figure as he was a sports idol." -Frank Deford, journalist, Sports Illustrated senior contributing writer, author of Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter "You don't have to be a boxing fan to want to time travel back to the 1880s and sample some nickel beer, free lunch, horse trolleys, and the Babel of immigrants. Christopher Klein, in this well-researched book, delivers the sportin' life of the Gilded Age when Americans crowned their first athlete-king, John L. Sullivan, in coast-to-coast banner headlines." -Richard Zacks, best-selling author of Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York "[A] treasure trove of information that covers sports, celebrity, crime, politics and entertainment as [Christopher Klein] tracks the John L. Sullivan, "Boston Strong Boy," across the country and globe as he rises from the tenement to the heavyweight championship and everything that came with it." -Publishers Weekly "A well-researched, enjoyable biography of boxing's first heavyweight superstar, John L. Sullivan (1858-1918).... Attentive as he is to historical details, Klein's storytelling gift is most evident in how he depicts 'John L.' as a beloved hero who was eventually undone by ego and who had a legendary appetite for food and drink. Though largely forgotten, Sullivan was the great 'American Hercules' who ruled the late-19th-century boxing world and helped usher it into the modern sporting age.... A lively, consistently entertaining sports biography." -Kirkus Reviews
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