Jim Lampley was in tears describing his influence. Sugar Ray Leonard called him “a friend” who “was so synonymous with my sport.” Freddie Roach said that he was “a guy who was very insightful, knew boxing very well and was just a really good boxing guy.”
They are among the many fight fans worldwide who are mourning the death of author, boxing historian and former RING Magazine Editor Bert Sugar, who died at 74 on Sunday of cardiac arrest at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York with his wife, Suzanne, and daughter, Jennifer Frawley, by his side.
Known for his trademark fedora, cigar and for colorful plaid pants, Sugar also had been battling lung cancer at the time of his passing.
Jim Lampley on Bert Sugar: “When I began calling fights at ABC in 1986, I was an avid fan and lover of the sport. But I really was not a boxing historian. My knowledge of boxing history prior to the 1950s was extremely skimpy.
“Over the years, my 25 years of calling fights, very often, I would have questions about historical facts, interpretation and the broader knowledge that I really needed to have. I would often go to Bert and ask for his help.
“And he was unfailingly generous, supportive and helpful. But most of all, Bert was fun, and that’s what I will miss the most.”
Sugar Ray Leonard: “Bert was a friend, man. We were friends. God, Bert Sugar and boxing, he was so synonymous with my sport. Bert was just that guy that you knew that you would see at ringside or at the press table.
“He’s that guy that you knew you were at a real fight when Bert Sugar was there, you know what I mean? Bert was always there, you know? I loved the way that he wrote, and I loved the way that he covered boxing from a different perspective.
“Because he was so very knowledgeable about the sport, he respected the sport, and it was very hard and very difficult to learn about this. It’s hard for me to put into words what he meant, because he meant so much to my sport, and to our sport.
“Along with the loss of Angelo Dundee last month, without question, in my heart, I just broke down. Bert was my friend. We spent intimate times together when I wasn’t fighting back in the day. Bert and I have moments together.”
Freddie Roach: “Bert was a great friend and I’m going to miss him a lot. We have had many conversations, and so forth. When I first met him, I didn’t know him that well. He was just the guy in the flashy pants. But then, when I got to know him, he was very insightful, knew boxing very well and was just a really good boxing guy.
“The thing is that he knew the history of boxing, and he has been around the sport for a long, long time. He was a great writer and just an enjoyable person to be around. He had a great sense of humor. You might not always like what he has to say. But as time went on, you realized that he was a really nice guy and he’ll be missed by this sport.
“Death is a part of life, as we know, but it’s so sad to see some of our mentors go. They’re the old-school guys who taught us the old ways about the sport. Some of the newer guys coming up aren’t getting to talk to these guys. That’s why we miss them so much. They’re full of knowledge and experience that can’t be beat.”
Photo by Ed Mulholland, Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org