August 18, 1887

Fans Celebrate John L. Sullivan

Greater Boston

On this day in 1887, thousands of adoring hometown fans flocked to Nantasket Beach in Hull to glimpse Boston-born John L. Sullivan, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, and the diamond-studded, gold-plated belt he was given on the eve of his world tour. Sullivan had escaped the poverty of his Irish immigrant family by fighting for money, despite the fact that it was illegal in most states. A remarkable record of 47 wins, one loss, and three draws brought Sullivan international fame and close to $1,000,000 in prize money. Alcoholism interrupted and finally ended his boxing career. Considered the first American sports idol, John L. Sullivan was known during his time as "the man most men wanted to be."

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