Bert Sugar was a legendary American sports historian and boxing journalist.
Sugar (born June 7, 1937; dies March 25, 2012) was born in Washington, DC and attended the University of Maryland for undergraduate studies before obtaining his JD and MBA from the University of Michigan in 1961. He worked in advertising for nearly a decade after graduating law school before moving on to journalism.
Sugar moved from the world of advertising to sportswriting in the 1970's after purchasing Boxing Illustrated magazine in 1969 and becoming its main editor until 1973. In 1979, Sugar became editor and publisher of The Ring magazine. In 1988 he once again began editing Boxing Illustrated and in 1998 he founded Bert Sugar's Fight Game.
Sugar covered some of the classic boxing fights of the late 20th century including the third fight between Ali and Joe Frazier, 1975's “Thrilla in Manila,” about which he wrote:
“Some day, when ring historians gather ’round boxing’s smoldering campfire to tell stories of great fights, going all the way back to the time when spectators wore grapes in their hair and the lions ate the losers, one fight from that long laundry list will be remembered as having been one of the greatest two-sided fights in boxing history: Ali-Frazier III.”
A prolific author as well, Sugar wrote more than 80 books on boxing and other sports. Some of his titles include: Boxing's Greatest Fighters, 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time, and Bert Sugar's Baseball Hall of Fame: A Living History of America's Greatest Game. His 2006 update of 100 Greatest Boxers offered these rankings: 1. Sugar Ray Robinson 2. Henry Armstrong, 3. Willie Pep, 4. Joe Louis, with Muhammad Ali at 7.
His public persona included a fedora, long cigar and drink in his hand, as well as cameos in fight movies like “The Great White Hype,” and appearances on HBO.
Sugar was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in January 2005 and in May 2010, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
After a long battle with lung cancer, Sugar died on March 25, 2012, of cardiac arrest. He was 75 years old and survived by his wife, Suzanne, and children, Jennifer and JB.