The Forgotten John L.

Recently with all the talk about the hardest hitting heavy weights and the best best ever and all of those threads that spurr up debates, I noticed there was not 1 mention of the great John L.

I find it amazing that the first gloved champion has been ignored, since his legacy is so impressive and entertaining. He was the symbol of the Irish American society; strong, hard hitting, hard drinking, and full of fight. His fights attracted the attention of most of America and was the first real sports american idol.

His legacy was made fighting bareknuckle fights so you can't really make a fair comparison between his power and that of gloved fighters.

But by all accounts I've read he was a very hard puncher indeed.

You could make an arguement for that, except that all fights back then were bare knuckle and nobody did the damage John L. did. It wasnt just the power of his right, but the speed of it. Also, I think it attributes to his toughness, and durrability that he didnt break his hand more than once.

His displays of strength were also very impressive. Things such as lifting casks of flour and nails overheadd, and even lifting a car and putting it back on tracks.

Dammit, Martin... when are you gonna sit down and write a book? I'd buy it in a skinny New York minute, and I'm sure a whole lot of other folks would too.

I hate to acknowledge Homies post, but yea Sullivan was a mean SOB too. Read a few of his fight discriptions/ bar fights and you'll defenaatly note a killer instinct. Although he was also a nice guy too and there are just as many stories of his generosity as there are of his brawling. Lets not forget him and the President of the US at the time, Teddy Roosevelt, was a very good friend of John's.

I was gonna mention something about Sullivan actually prefering gloves for a fight because I thought I read something along those lines in one of his biographies, but I figured martin would come on here and once again prove my memory wrong.

I always wondered if John L. ever fought one of the gang leaders of five point, like Bill the Butcher etc, and then Martin comes on here an informs me that John did and whipped his ass. Another dream come true.

As far as Sullivan not knowing the meaning of training in his last fight against Corbett, Sullivan knew he was over weight and out of shape so he hired William Muddon (sp) to help fight the battle of the bulge and booze, although he didnt give himself enough time to reverse the effects of his hard living. Still was one helluva athlete.

William Muldoon, former New York City police officer. Founded the Police Athletic Association. Has been called the father of american wrestling by some, altough that title should go to Ed Decker. He was not only trainer but also manager and "father confessor" for Sullivan at one time.

I don't know as much about the old time fighters as I do the old time wrestlers but I do know that they were often friends and often trained together. One can watch the existing footage of Stecher / Caddock from '20 and then to realize that they went at it at that pace for over 2 hours! I can assure you that no wrestler alive today could maintain that pace for 2 hours.

Frank Gotch who was a close friend of Jim Jeffries opened his workouts with a 6 mile run followed by an hour of handball. Then it was on to an hour technique work followed by 2 hours of n wrestling with 3 rotating sparring partners. This was followed by an hour of strength training, 15 minutes of strecthing and a 4 mile "cooldown" run. You get some of todays prima donna, video watchin', twinkie eatin', "I ain't gettin' paid enough" fighters to do this and I'll stand on my head and gargle peanut butter.

"Actually,the vast majority of Sullivan's fights were gloved bouts."

It'a a good thing Martin's around to keep us amateur historians straight.

The majority of his fights? I did not know that. So if Sullivan had lost in one of those gloved exhibitions, his opponent could have still made a legit claim to being the champion?

Muldoon had Sullivan live on his farm - far away from the saloons of NYC - and worked him into the best shape of his life for the Kilrain fight.

The Kilrain fight is the one that Muldoon's wizard like powers of conditioning were really proved in. Sullivan was close to the end and Muldoon whipped him into phenominal shape for that fight. But Sullivan just could not maintain the discipline. He was far to past it and arrogant to get into the shape he needed to be in to take Gentleman Jim. As it was it still Corbett more than 20 rounds to finish off a shell of the Strongboy.

As to a sanctioning authority, the closest thing at the time in the US was Fox's Police Gazette. The Ring before there was a Ring. Since Sullivan alienated Fox's support by returning Fox's championship belt any one who could claim a win of any kind over Sullivan would have received strong support from the magazine.
It was his falling out with the Gazette's owner that prompted the support of Kilrain, more of a wrestler than a boxer, by the magazine as a challenger for the belt.

At 5'10" & 185 I don't think Sullivan would have murdered the heavies today (Although Paddy Ryan was supposedly 6'6" - 6'9"/ of course the Irish NEVER exagerate) But there aren't any Cruisers, ROY and TOney included, who would have matched his strength.

A Jirov vs Sullivan fight would be a war that Jirov might not survive.

Sullivan used to say "I can lick any son of bitch in
the house" and it was true then and it would be be
ture now if he were alive and active. When it came
to fighting John L., pretty boys need not apply.

we have become complete pussies compared to the dudes back then.

Sorry to nitpick Martin, but spat is the past tense of spit. Hence "Sullivan spit at him." should be 'Sullivan spat at him.' Great info on Sullivan though, thanks!

Sullivan was 197 for the fight with Kilrain.

True but he had lost a great deal of weight to make 197 and while in great shape he was not as lean and Dempsey-quick as during his rise to the top.

He did come down from a bloated 237, but I think he was around 200 for most of his career.

Merry christmas to all you guys who care about old-time boxing!

Regardng height: I stood right next to Tyson and I
would say he is about 5'9" . No way he is 5'11.

Thanks for all of the info guys, just a few other questions. When you say that Sullivan would pat his left thigh, you mean he would actually drop his left and tap his thigh right before he threw the right? That is strange never heard of such a thing.

Speaking of his training with Muldoon, did you guys know that Sullivan continued to lift barbells after he started boxing, only he didnt use heavy weights and low reps he only used about 5lb dumbells, kinda strange eh. I think the reasons why Mulddon was so effective with Sullivan were 1.) He was a baddass himself and probbly could have hooked him with a chicken wing or something and 2.) Muldoon kept a baseball bat to kept Sullivan in line. Muldoon had to be pissed off when one someone Slipped Sullivan whiskey between round.

Anybody know of any sourses of fight descriptions/ pictures of Sullivans fight? Im talking like books, websites, guys like Martin who are so kind in spending time on here sharing the knowlege (HINT HINT). THanx again you guys you have been a big help, and Merry Christmas.

I have a web page archive saved with some pretty cool pics from the Sullivan/Kilrain fight. It's not on the original site anymore so if you want it, leave your email addy.

Thanx for the pics Martin, I knew that a lot of fighters back then fought with their hands low to protect their body more, but in the pics I have seen of Sullivan posing he held his hands higher.