A Small Tribute to a Giant Legend: Bert Sugar
By: William Holmes
“What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?” he said as he peered at me from across the table. My father, a man in his mid 60’s, asked me this question while eating dinner. He was a little bit skeptical when I told him I was going to start writing for boxinginsider.com, for he had seen me work hard to get my law degree, and wasn’t completely sure I could handle the grind of being an attorney and a writer.
“Why not, and who knows, maybe I can be like Bert Sugar one day.”
It was obvious to my father by my response that I already had made up my mind, and I was not going to be dissuaded. He also smiled, for he knew who Bert Sugar was, and thought I was probably setting unrealistically high expectations for myself.
Bert Sugar passed away today. He left the boxing community at the age of 75.
I never met the man, but I had hoped to one day meet him. There are many talented writers who cover boxing, but none was more famous than Bert Sugar. When Burt Sugar spoke, his readers and listeners considered his words gospel. Perhaps he had the right look that demanded respect. Even during interviews, Sugar is remembered for always having a cigar in his mouth and a fedora on his head.
Bert Sugar had such a way of talking and arguing his opinions that they were often difficult if not impossible to argue against. He accomplished all that could be accomplished as a writer in this sport. His achievements will be difficult if not impossible for new writers to reach.
It’s Sugar’s encyclopedia like knowledge of the sport the most impressive. Nobody was as widely recognized as being as knowledgeable about past fighters like Bert Sugar. I remember watching Bert Sugar talk about Willie Pep when I first became a fan of boxing. I wasn’t yet knowledgeable enough about the sport to fully know its history, but since Bert Sugar said Willie Pep was one of the best I had to do my own research on him and tried to find old boxing videos of him on Youtube.
His accomplishments were so vast, that his opinions were deserving of being considered “authority”.
He published over 80 books. He was considered the greatest historian the sport has ever seen. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He was famous enough to play himself in movies such as Rocky Balboa. He was a former owner and editor of Boxing Illustrated and an editor of Ring Magazine.
He was a legend. He was respected. He will be missed.
He was a source of inspiration. He was what every inspiring writer wanted to be when they started covering the sport.
Bert Sugar had a law degree and an MBA. He was able to use his education to work in field doing something he obviously loved.
He lived a full life.
RIP Bert Sugar (June 7, 1937-March 25, 2012)