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The Great Referee Counts
"Ten" Over Famous John L.

John L. Sullivan
Greatest of all pugilists, who died at his home
in Abington, Mass., yesterday.

_ Abington, Mass., Feb. 2 - John L.
_ Sullivan, one of the most interesting
figures of prize ring renown, died sud-
denly of heart disease at his farm in
West Abington today. As was his wish,
he died with his shoes on. Although
stricken with heart trouble three
weeks ago, he quickly improved
and was in no sense an invalid. He
was about to leave his house today to
pay a visit to Boston to see his old
friend, Captain James P. Sullivan, of
the Boston police department, when he
received his final knockout.
_ His friend and companion, George
M. Bush, rushed to his side as the old
gladiator sank to the floor uncon-
scious, and revived him with cold wa-
ter applications to the head. "John
L.," responding quickly to the treat-
ment, as in his palmy days in the
prize ring, struggled to his feet and
refused to take the decilson of time.
He reluctantly consented to have a
physician called, but after receiving
medical treatment, announced that he
would have a bath and keep his ap-
pointment. Even as he expressed his
determination he became unconscious
and died apparently without further

Funeral Wednesday

_ The body will be taken to the home
of his sister in Boston, where funeral
services will be held Wednesday
morning. Hardly had the news of the
passing of one of America's greatest
fistic champions been flashed broad-
cast, than messages of sympathy be-
gan pouring into town from men in
all walks of life. Sullivan, in his
prime, was a popular idol and he
never entirely lost his hold on the
public. This was due not only to the
success of his old prize fighting days,
but to his rugged battle later against
his old easy-going habits.
_ "John L." always attributed his loss
of the championship to Corbett by a
knockout in New Orleans September
7, 1892, to liquor. He had made a
fortune in the prize ring and had
spent it, when friends tendered
him a benefit concert in Boston to put
him on his feet again. The money ob-
tained from this venture went also
according to his ruling habit and then
Sullivan's old fighting spirit reassert-
ed itself, and he announced that he
had entered the list against John
Barleycorn for a fight to the finish.
He never let up in his aggressive fight
against liquor, and frequently left his
farm here for long temperance speak-
ing tours.

Fifty-nine Years Old

_ He was 59 years old when he was
counted out. He had often expressed
regret that he was too old to go with
the boys over seas, but he was not too
old to do his bit.
_ He never declined an invitation to
speak at a flag raising or recruiting
rally or in behalf of the Liberty loan.
Sullivan was never taught how to box.
He took to fighting naturally. His
first appearance in the ring was at a
variety performance in Boston when
he was in his teens, a magnificently
built young man weighing nearly 200
pounds. A husky boxer, who was one
of the performers, challenged any one
in the audience to enter the ring with
him. It was a summons Sullivan
could not refuse, although he had
no ring experience. Peeling off his
coat, he leaped upon the stage, took
a blow to the head and knocked out
his opponent with one clean punch
straight from the shoulder. It was a
method of fighting he never dropped.

Sketch of His Career

_ John Laurence Sullivan was one of
the most picturesque characters in the
history of prize fighting. For more
than ten years, from the time he de-
feated Paddy Ryan in 1882, in a bare
knuckle fight under the London prize
ring rules, until he was defeated by
James J. Corbett, in 1892, his person-
ality and methods of fighting complete-
ly dominated sporting circles in the
United States.
_ In the annals of pugilism in this
country two notable distinctions were
his: He was the last champion under
the London prize ring rules, and he
was the first native-born American
to succeed to the world's championship.
It was largely through his achieve-
ments that the championship title was
made a prize of great monetary value.
In the early days of his career $1,000
a side was looked on as a great sum.
He received only $53 for the foght that
made him a national character in fisti-
cuffs and won him the right to chal-
lenge Paddy Ryan for the champion-
_ His friends ranged all the way from
the ordinary 'fight fan' to many men of
social and financial distiction in the
United States, and it is said he was
on chumming terms with the late
King Edward VII of England.

Began at Seventeen

_ He began his fighting career soon
after he was seventeen, when as the
"Boston Strong Boy" he took part in
amateur boxing contests in several
cities in Massachusetts, if Sullivan's
customary procedure in his early
youth could be called boxing. Tactics,
strategy, plans of campaigns were all
swept away when John L. hammered
his ruthless, undeviating way to the
front. His style was atavistic, a re-
turn to the simple, primitive principle
of battering an opponent into insensi-
bility. His success, coupled with his
free manners, a certain social triumph
and his subsequent position as a semi-
public character proclaimed him a sort
of dignitary in the sporting world.
_ After his nine-round fight with Paddy
Ryan, on the strip of greensward on
the Gulf of Mexico, the word "knock-
out" was manufactured by Billy Mad-
den, Sullivan's trainer, to describe the
effect of his blows when properly de-
_ His hardest fight was with Jake Kil-
rain. It was fought near New Orleans
and lasted for seventy-five rounds.
That was the last championship contest
in the United States to be fought with
bare knuckles, under the old rules.
_ That fight practically decided the
uselessness of trying to beat Sullivan
by combatting him in his own sledge
hammer style. A thirty-nine round
fight with Charley Mitchell, a wary and
skillful boxer, seemed to show fighting
managers that the great John L. might
be vulnerable to a man who could box
well and stay with him long enough
to wear him down. The opportunity to
try this method on the champion fell to
James J. Corbett. The purse was the
largest ever put up in a ring battle up
to that time. The purse was $25,000
and the stakes $20,000. The fight that
was to end John L's championship was
fought before the Olympic club, of
New Orleans. When the fight was over
there was a new champion of the
world. Sullivan was thirty-four at the
time of his defeat.
_ Sullivan said himself that he made
two millions in the fighting business
and spent one million of it in buying
drinks for himself and his host of

Knocked Out 200 Men

_ He had knocked out two hundred
men, of one sort or another, in his
fighting career, and finally he said
that in a saloon in Terre Haunt, Ind.
In 1905, he gave the "Black Bottle," his
greatest enemy, the knockout wallop.
On the occasion of the decision with re-
gard to the "Black Bottle," he said:
"If I take another drink, I hope I
choke, so help me God." He never took
another, but kept up his fight for tem-
perance by lecturing occasionally on
the evils of drink for those who have
athletic ambitions.
_ He was born in Boston October 15,
1858, and passed the later years of his
life on a farm which he owned near
West Abington, Mass. He was twice
married. His first wife was Annie
Bates, of Centerville, R.I., whom he
married in 1882, but with whom he lived
only a few months and from whom he
obtained a divorce on the ground of
desertion after twenty-six years. At
fifty-one years of age the former cham-
pion took as his second wife Kate Har-
kins, of Roxbury, who was his sweet-
heart years before when he was "The
Boston Strong Boy."

FEBRUARY 2, 1918

FEBRUARY 3, 1918


Historic boxing newspapers and articles.