This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is Christopher Klein, author of the book Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero.
Bio – Christopher Klein
Christopher Klein is a history and travel writer and the author of two previous books, Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Shores–which covers the rich history, recreational offerings, and heritage of each of the 34 islands that compose the Boston Harbor Islands national park area–and The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston.
A frequent contributor to The Boston Globe and History.com, he has also written for The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine, Red Sox Magazine, ESPN.com, Smithsonian.com, and AmericanHeritage.com.
Christopher graduated summa cum laude and with honors from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is a member of the Boston Authors Club and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
“I can lick any son-of-a-b— 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: Lyons Press (2013)
Hardcover; 353 pages with end notes, bibliography, an index and BxW photos.
Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero is available for purchase from Amazon.com and other booksellers.
In this interview Chris and I talk about John L. Sullivan the son of a humble Irish immigrant family who went on to achieve sports super stardom in the realm of boxing. The Irish had a difficult time, first with the famine in Ireland and then later with prejudice in America. John L. Sullivan had a fighting aptitude for boxing at a time when the rules of boxing were changing. Gone were the rules that allowed for barefisted fighting, hair pulling and wrestling. These were replaced with more civilized rules including the use of gloves and three-minute rounds. With fame also came alcoholism and other vices for John L. Sullivan. Surprisingly after his retirement from boxing Sullivan continued to be a sought after star in the theatre and other areas. In 1905 he gave up drinking and embraced the temperance movement. Author Christoper Klein regards John L. Sullivan as America’s First Sports Hero.
One copy of Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero was given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of Lyons Press.
The winner is: :
- Bruce Longley of New York
- Margaret Sullivan of Massachusetts
Congratulations to our winner and thanks to Lyons Press for their generosity in donating the book!
Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!
The Direct Link to this post is www.fieldstonecommon.com/strong-boy-christopher-klein
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