Essentially the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight champions, John L. Sullivan was instrumental in the acceptance of gloved fighting. His charisma and popular appeal during this transitional period contributed greatly to making boxing a nationally popular, ""legitimate"" sport. Sullivan became boxing's first superstar and arguably the first of any sport. From his first match in the late 1870s through his final fight in 1905, this biography contains a thoroughly researched, detailed accounting of John L. Sullivan's boxing career. With special attention to the 1880s, the decade during which Sullivan came to prominence, it follows Sullivan's skill development and discusses his opponents in detail, providing various viewpoints of a single event. Beginning with a discussion of early boxing practices, the sport itself is placed within sociological, legal and historical contexts including anti - prize fighting laws and the so-called ""colour line."" Ironically, Sullivan's personal adherence to this final concept with his refusal to fight a coloured opponent remains the one blemish on a phenomenal career. A complete record of Sullivan's career is also included.