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

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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Christopher Klein Narrator: Joe Barrett Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“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 sports for more than a decade and the first athlete to earn more than a million dollars. He had a big ego, a big mouth, and even 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.

Strong Boy tells the story of 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, such as his seventy-five-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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author and senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated

  • “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, bestselling author of Island of Vice

  • “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

  • “From the first page to the last, Klein’s prose retains its powers of enchantment and illumination. It is one of the best boxing books ever penned.”

    Boston Globe

  • "[A] treasure trove of information that covers sports, celebrity, crime, politics, and entertainment as [Christopher Klein] tracks John L. Sullivan, the ‘Boston Strong Boy,’ across the country and globe as he rises from the tenement to the heavyweight championship and everything that came with it.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Joe Barrett’s narration brings this larger-than-life character to the mind’s eye of the listener with a wonderfully gruff, Irish-New England accent. Author Christopher Klein captures much about this man—and there’s a lot not to like—but it’s Barrett who embraces Sullivan’s voice in an animated way. That effort makes Strong Boy a great marriage of scholarship and narration.”

    AudioFile

  • “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. Though largely forgotten, Sullivan was the great ‘American Hercules’ who ruled the late-nineteenth-century boxing world and helped usher it into the modern sporting age. A lively, consistently entertaining sports biography.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Chap | 6/15/2016

    " Strong Boy by Christopher Klein was just ok. It's the story of John L. Sullivan, the renowned fighter at the beginning of the 20th century that basically legitimized boxing. It started out very good and was interesting, but then it began to drag. He made a boat-load of money doing alot of different things but ended up wasting it all on drink and giving it away. All in all a disapointing book. I wouldn't be fair recommending this book. "

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About the Author

Christopher Klein is an author and a history and travel writer. A frequent contributor to the Boston Globe and History.com, he has also written for the New York TimesHarvard magazine, ESPN.com, Smithsonian.com, AmericanHeritage.com, and National Geographic Traveler.