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The Great John L. Sullivan

The man they called "The Boston Strong Boy" was one of the most popular boxers ever to step in the ring, even though he fought well over 100 years ago, when boxing was still an "illegal" event in most states.

John L. Sullivan was born in 1858 and only stood just over 5'10", but had a very solid physique usually weighing in around the 190lbs mark.

Sullivan started fighting in amatuer competitions around the age of eighteen. When he was nineteen years old, he attended a local Opera House where part of the act was for a heavyweight boxer who performed on the night to challenge a member of the audience. As history has it, the participant on the night was none other than John L. After being king hit, Sullivan went on the attack and quickly knocked his opponent out of the ring, thus starting his professional career.

His first professional fight was in 1878 against a fighter by the name of Cockey Woods with whom Sullivan knocked out in the fifth round. A year after this fight, Sullivan had beaten Paddy Ryan by KO to claim the Bareknuckle Heavyweight Championship of the world.

His gruelling 75 round fight against Jake Kilrain in 1889 was recorded as the last championship to be fought with bare knuckles.

John L. Sullivan compiled a record of somewhere between 35-48 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. The exact number of fights John L was involved in is often disputed, mainly due to numerous exhibition bouts he fought. His only knockout loss came at the hands of Gentleman Jim Corbett in 1892 whilst fighting for the first Heavyweight Championship of the World under The Marquis Of Queensbury Rules.

Even to this day, John L. is known by many, even though he fought over 100 years ago, and his value to collectors of sporting memoribilia is enormous.

1889 - Duke
These were mini books depicting
the boxer's life story.

The Great John L. Circa 1880's
"I can lick any son of a bitch in the house !"
was his famous catch cry.

John L. Sullivan Cards

A selection of cards featuring John L. Sullivan, including possibly all known 19th century releases.

Cabinet cards, such as the N566 Newsboy and 19th century trade cards have been ommitted from this list.

Click here for pictures of cards.

Thanks to Andy Baran and Brent Butcher for information and card scans.

1880's Kinney Sporting Extra (N246) - 2 cards
1887 Allen & Ginter "The World's Champions" (N28)
1887 Goodwin & Co. - Old Judge Cigarettes"
          (with logo) (N174) - 2 cards
1887 Goodwin & Co. - Old Judge Cigarettes"
          (wavy text) (N174)
1887 Goodwin & Co. - Gypsy Queen Cigarettes"
           (wavy text) (N174) - 2 cards
1887 Lorillard Mechanic's Delight (N269) - 2 cards
1888 Goodwin & Co. - Old Judge & Gypsy Queen
          Cigarettes "Champions" (N162)
1888 WS Kimball & Co's Cigarettes
           "Champions of Games & Sport"
           (with and without Kimball ad) (N184)
1889 Spalding & Merrick (N386) - Echo Tobacco
1889 Spalding & Merrick (N386) - Plow Boy Tobacco
           (2 variations)
1889 Spalding & Merrick (N386) - Canada Chop
1889 Duke Honest Long Cut (N150)- 4 cards
1889 Duke Cigarettes "History of Poor Boys" (N79)
1889 Kinney "Hold to the Light" (N223)
1889 S.F. Hess (N332)
1890 PH Mayo & Brother - Mayo Cut Plug
           "Prizefighters" (N310)
1890 Royal Glue
1893 Lorillard Red Cross Long Cut (N266)
           (with Corbett)
1901 Ogden's Tab Cigarettes
          "General Interest Series A" (card 86)
1901 Ogden's Tab Cigarettes
           "General Interest Series B" (card 79)
1901 Ogden's Tab Cigarettes
           "Heroes of the Ring"
1908 Ogden's Cigarettes "Pugilists & Wrestlers"
          (Card 13)
1910 American Tobacco Co. - Mecca/Tolstoi Cigarettes
           "Champion Athlete & Prizefighter Series" (T220)
1910 American Tobacco Co. - Mecca/Tolstoi Cigarettes
          (vs Kilrain)
           "Champion Athlete & Prizefighter Series" (T220)
1910 American Tobacco Co. - Dixie Queen Cigarettes
           "Prizefighters of the Past & Presents" (T223)
1910 American Tobacco Co. - Dixie Queen Cigarettes
          (vs Kilrain)
           "Prizefighters of the Past & Presents" (T223)
1910 American Tobacco Co. - Pet/Kopec Cigarettes
1910 American Caramel (E75)
1910 American Caramel (E76)
1910 Robertson Candy Co (K153) (Canadian E76)
1915 Cope Bros & Co Ltd "Boxers"
1920s Strip Card (W580)
1923 Willards Chocolates
1928 John Player & Sons "Pugilists In Action" (card 45)
1930's DC Thompson & Co Ltd - The Wizard Album
           "Famous Fights" (vs Mitchell)
1935 United Tobacco Co. "World Famous Boxers"
1937 Doughnut Coproration of America
1937 Ripley's Believe it or Not
1938 FC Cartledge Knock Out Razor Blades
           "Famous Prizefighters" (Card #18)
1939 United Tobacco Co "World Famous Boxers"
1948 Leaf (Card #101)
1948 Topps Boxing Champions "Magic Photo"
1951 Topps "Ringside"
1951 Baytch Bros. (Card 24)
1952 Bowman Gum Inc "Wild Man" (Card #15)
1954 Topps "Scoops"(Card #71)
1956 Adventure Gum Card (Card #76)
1962 Topps "Famous Americans"
1962 Topps "Foldees"
1967-68 Panini "Pugilato" (Card 482)
1985 Whoozit (Card part of Trivia Game)
1991 All World Boxing
1991 All World Boxing (vs Kilrain)(Card 39)
1991 Kayo Cards (Card 208)
1991 Ideal Albums Ltd. "Boxing Greats" (Card #23)
1992 WR Priddy Antiques "Famous Boxers" (Card 68)
1994 Brown's
1997 Sporting Profiles (10 card set)
1995 Grolier "Story of America"(Card #29-11)
2001 Sporting Profiles "Heavyweight Champs" (Card 1)

If you have any more to add, let me know !

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