History | Oct 15 2016

On This Day: Robust warrior John L. Sullivan was born in 1858

The trailblazing hammerfist John L Sullivan, regarded by many as the first world heavyweight champion, was one of a kind, writes Matt Bevan
John L Sullivan

ON this day in 1858 one of the greatest names in boxing history was born. John L. Sullivan was one of the first sporting heroes in America and is a boxing immortal, and he is widely considered the link between bare knuckle fighting and glove fighting.

SULLIVAN won the American heavyweight title in 1882, when he beat Paddy Ryan in a bare knuckle contest, dominating Ryan to win by a ninth round knockout. He was awarded the world title in 1885 and reigned for 10 years, but refused to fight any black boxers throughout his reign, drawing what was to be known as boxing’s “colour line”.

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