“In this muscular, relentlessly detailed book, Christopher Klein not only tells Sullivan’s story but also documents the evolution of boxing from illicit bare-knuckle savagery akin to today’s steel-cage extravaganzas to the ‘sweet science’ of legally sanctioned bouts between skillful gloved opponent.”
Wall Street Journal
“John L. Sullivan was perhaps the first real American sports superstar, and especially because he meant so much as a minority champion, he prefigured Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King and the many other athletes who became genuine heroes to the people they represented. The Great John L. is as important a cultural figure as he was a sports idol.”
Frank Deford, journalist,Sports Illustrated senior contributing writer, author of Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter
“You don’t have to be a boxing fan to want to time travel back to the 1880s and sample some nickel beer, free lunch, horse trolleys, and the Babel of immigrants. Christopher Klein, in this well-researched book, delivers the sportin’ life of the Gilded Age when Americans crowned their first athlete-king, John L. Sullivan, in coast-to-coast banner headlines.”
Richard Zacks, best-selling author of Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York
"[A] treasure trove of information that covers sports, celebrity, crime, politics and entertainment as [Christopher Klein] tracks the John L. Sullivan, "Boston Strong Boy," across the country and globe as he rises from the tenement to the heavyweight championship and everything that came with it."
"A well-researched, enjoyable biography of boxing's first heavyweight superstar, John L. Sullivan (1858–1918).... 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. Though largely forgotten, Sullivan was the great 'American Hercules' who ruled the late-19th-century boxing world and helped usher it into the modern sporting age.... A lively, consistently entertaining sports biography."