I cannot say I knew the legendary Bert Sugar, but I can say I met him. I was fortunate to be with the legendary boxing writer and analyst in Philadelphia last year at the ESPN radio show at Finnegan’s Wake. The bar is located next to the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in the Northern Liberties Section of Philadelphia.
Mr. Sugar was born in Washington DC and graduated from the University of Maryland. He authored over 80 books, mostly boxing history, and was the editor-in-chief of Boxing Illustrated and The Ring magazine at different times in his long career. Those in the fight game will remember him not only for all of his boxing knowledge, but also for the hat that never left his head and the cigar that never left his hand.
On Sunday, when Mr. Sugar passed away, the sport of boxing lost not only a boxing historian, but also an icon of the sport. Mr. Sugar was known for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude. He was a familiar face at ringside for all of the big fights, a down-to-earth guy who would enjoy conversation with anyone around him.
One story I heard was his will and his desire to do anything to get an interview, even sparring with The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
Mr. Sugar’s forte was in story-telling, true or false. He had more stories up his sleeve then any other historian still around today and he wore the image of the old-time fight fan like a glove. He never hesitated to teach others about the sport and its rich history. He could make you fall in love with boxing.
There are many knockouts in boxing, but some say the pen is mightier than the sword. Bert Sugar’s words made him a knockout artist.
Philly Fight Scene
Over the weekend I was talking to a complete stranger who asked me what I did for a living, and when I told him, he was shocked. This experience led me to think about where I am in life and how lucky and blessed I am to be here.
We talk about the fighters from the past, as if they were the best thing since sliced bread. They probably were, but it’s time to start giving more credit to those involved with the sport right now.
Over the weekend, me and a group of Philadelphia fans thought we would have to choose between watching local heavyweight Bryant Jennings fight a former world champion Sergei Liakhovich on NBC Sports Network, or watch fellow-Philadelphian Danny Garcia fight for the World Boxing Council (WBC) junior welterweight title against Erik Morales on HBO. As it turned out, the networks worked in our favor as the Jennings fight was ending just as the Garcia fight was starting. As a Philly fight fan, I watched two fine fighters win tough fights back-to-back.
clip_image006 Garcia became the first Latino world champion ever from Philadelphia, and Jennings became more than just a fighter but a marketing guru as well. Jennings spoke of Elite Klass, a favorite sponsor of his, multiple times in his post-fight interview. Congrats to both of them!
Coming up: Philadelphian Hank Lundy will face Dannie Williams next Friday on ESPN2; junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado (right) boxes Joel Julio on NBC Sports Network on June 1 in Bethlehem; welterweight Ronald Cruz faces Prenice Brewer on the same NBC show; welterweight Mike Jones fights for the IBF title against Randall Baliey on June 9 on the same HBO PPV card that includes super bantamweight Teon Kennedy battling Guillermo Rigondeaux for the WBA title.
Non-TV fights coming up include the cruiserweight rematch between Garrett Wilson and Andres Taylor for the USBA title and the vacant NABF title, on April 14th at Bally’s Atlantic City. There will be a battle of the southpaws in Newtown on May 12th, welterweights Ray Robinson and Terrance Cauthen. Then the following weekend back at Bally’s Atlantic City junior middleweights Jamaal Davis and Harry Joe Yorgey will be battling in the main event.
There is no other city that I would like to be a part of right now. These fighters are doing their job and representing our city and showing the heart that comes with being a Philly fighter. Good luck guys, make us proud!
The author is a Temple University graduate who is now a part of Peltz Boxing. Follow us on twitter @Peltzboxing and our intern @bamonboxing