Early praise for STRONG BOY: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero

john-l“Boxing fans will delight in the detailed accounts of Sullivan’s battles with Paddy Ryan, Charley Mitchell, Jake Kilrain, and Jim Corbett, while others might find more interest in Sullivan drunken exploits. . . . Even though this may not be the first book about Sullivan, it just may be the most exhaustive.”-Publishers Weekly

“Klein delivers a well-researched, enjoyable biography of boxing’s first heavyweight superstar, John L. Sullivan. . . . Attentive as he is to historical details, Klein’s storytelling gift is most evident in how he depicts ‘John L.’ as a beloved hero who was eventually undone by ego and who had a legendary appetite for food and drink. A lively, consistently entertaining sports biography.”-Kirkus Reviews

“Sports biography at its best. Rich in period detail, anecdote, and fresh perspective, Strong Boy paints both the good and the bad sides of success, as America’s growing celebrity culture turned a simple Irish American gladiator into a national, in fact international hero. A very human story with profound parallels for our sports-obsessed culture today!”-Nigel Hamilton, author of Biography: A Brief History


Laurie Kenney/Publicist; 203/458-4555


-The story of John L. Sullivan, America’s first national sports superstar and the forefather of boxing-

“I can lick any son-of-a-bitch 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.

Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the November 5, 2013, release of STRONG BOY: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN L. SULLIVAN, AMERICA’S FIRST SPORTS HERO, by Christopher Klein (978-0-7627-8152-2; $26.95 hc), the story of John L. Sullivan, 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-including 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:

  • Learn how Sullivan’s incredible career and oversized personality launched America’s sporting obsession
  • Travel back in time to the extravagant Gilded Age to witness the birth of our celebrity culture
  • Discover how Sullivan’s power and self-confidence transformed him into an idol for a generation of Irish-Americans emasculated in the wake of the horrific potato famine that gripped their homeland
  • Explore how Sullivan revolutionized boxing from outlawed bare-knuckle fighting into the gloved spectacle we know today
  • View never-before-seen photographs of the “Boston Strong Boy”

To read an excerpt, read the John L. Sullivan blog, buy the book, and find free downloads such as “John L. Sullivan’s Guide to the Manly Life,” a collection of the fighter’s most colorful quotes, please visit

Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero

Christopher Klein

Lyons Press

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8152-2

368 plus 16-page photo insert

$26.95 US

Available in hardcover and Kindle from Also available at Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and independent bookstores everywhere. Find links to purchase at

Christopher Klein is a history and travel writer and the author of two previous books, including The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston, which the Boston Globe called “a handy primer for the sports-bewildered.” A frequent contributor to The Boston Globe and, he has also written for The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine, Red Sox Magazine,,, and He is a member of the International Boxing Research Organization. Visit him at


Laurie Kenney/Publicist; 203/458-4555

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