Thursday, October 20, 2005

The John L. Sullivan

On Wednesday, a fellow wage slave was looking something up in the dictionary when he came across the entry for Sullivan, John L(awrence).
"1858-1918; U.S. prizefighter," the entry says, and next to it is this picture.
"That's probably my favorite picture in this book," my co-worker said.
"That guy is bad-ass," I said.
I decided to do a bit of Google research and I have since decided that John L. Sullivan is my new hero. Known as The Boston Strong Boy, Sullivan's break in boxing came in 1877 when he went to see heavyweight boxer Jack Scannel (some accounts have it as Tom Scannell) and was goaded by the crowd onto stage to face the boxer. When Sullivan got on stage, Scannel -- showing all the necessary traits to be a modern pro-wrestling heel -- popped him in the face. Sullivan responded by delivering a series right hook that knocked Scannel into the orchestra pit.
He then spent the next 15 years beating the hell out of all comers. He traveled the country offering $50 to any man who could last three rounds ("Nobody ever collected, but don't think they didn't try!" Sullivan told a reporter); he fought bare-knuckle; he met royalty ("He was a real fellow. Common as an old shoe," he said of King Edward VII); and became the stuff of legend. One of the more popular tales was that John L. Sullivan, a la Mongo in "Blazing Saddles," had killed a horse with one punch.
"That never did happen," Sullivan protested. "I always liked horses and I swear on the cross that I never killed one, with my fist or any other way."
Sullivan fought once in Minneapolis; on Jan. 18, 1887. He broke his right arm in the third round of his six-round thrashing of a guy named Patsy Cardiff. That is bad-ass. It is so bad-ass that from now on, when something is bad-ass, I intend to simply say that it is John L. Sullivan.
Sullivan lost only one fight -- his last, a 21-round war against Gentleman Jim Corbett, eight years his younger. Cripes. 21 rounds. That must have been ugly. Corbett was best known for bringing a more scientific approach to boxing, but I really like Sullivan's philosophy:
"Well, there's nothing to fighting," he said. "Just come out fast from your corner, hit the other fellow as hard as you can and hit him first."
I have decided that if I ever own a pub, it will be called The John L. Sullivan*. A picture of him sporting a massive handlebar moustache would hang out front. It's sad how clearly I can see this pub in my mind. The exterior would be painted green and the interior would consist of rich woods and sturdy wood furniture. There will be exposed beams and quotes from Sullivan will be written across them: "Whiskey is the only fighter who ever licked John L. Sullivan, champion of the world!"

  • In this story it mentions that there were more than 16,000 murders in the United States last year. Does that seem high to you?

  • Do you ever have those moments when you remember something that annoyed you years ago and, suddenly, it pisses you off all over again?
    Anyway, the point is: You suck, Bono.

  • The United States is higher in the FIFA rankings than England. Hee hee.

  • Wikipedia has a list of people known as the father or mother of something (the father of Finnish music?!).

    *Admittedly Sullivan spent the last years of his life as a strong proponent of temperance, but he also owned a bar.

    Dave Morris said...

    Wow, cool story about Sullivan. At least you know he was the real deal.

    16,000 murders only reinforces the fact that human beings are a savage lot that hasn't really evolved that much.

    Linus said...

    I love John L. Sullivan, in the strong manly way that one can love a tough as nails corpse.

    You should check out Gentleman Jim w/Errol Flynn. John L. Sullivan is played by Ward Bond, and is utterly badass in it.

    OldHorsetailSnake said...

    It's too bad FIFA isn't important, though.

    I wish I could remember who played Jim in Gentleman Jim Corbett. But that isn't important, either.

    Crystal said...

    Common as an old shoe! Hopefully the person who made that remark did so after he died.

    Cheekysquirrel said...

    FIFA ranking are notorious for making no sense.

    Wales did really badly in the World Cup qualifyers and yet we rose 9 places. Makes no sense?!

    Anonymous said...

    I was just wondering, when you did your research on John L. Sullivan did you find any article's about his wife, or if he had any children? If so could you please post where I could find these articles.