Bert Randolph Sugar, boxing journalist and historian, passed away Sunday from cardiac arrest at the age of 75.
Sporting his trademark fedora and usually chomping on a cigar, Sugar came to represent the colorful, aged voice of common sense in the topsy-turvy world of professional boxing, but spent much of his 40-plus years in the sport as a hard-hitting journalist and historian.
Jennifer Frawley, Sugar’s daughter, said his wife, Suzanne, was by his side when he died at Northern Westchester Hospital. Sugar also had been battling lung cancer.
”Just his intelligence and his wit and his sense of humor,” Frawley said when asked what she will remember about her father. ”He was always worried about people. He was always helping people.”
Sugar was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005. According to the hall’s website, Sugar wrote more than 80 books, including ”The 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time.”
”Bert was obviously a showman in the way he did things outwardly, very flamboyant, but in quiet moments I found him to be an extremely modest individual,” said Jack Hirsch, the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Sugar was born in Washington, D.C., in 1936. He graduated from Maryland and went to law school at Michigan. He passed the bar in his hometown and worked in advertising in New York City before he got into writing in the 1970s.
In 1969, Sugar, who was a non-practicing lawyer, purchased Boxing Illustrated and ran the magazine until 1973. In 1979, he became editor and publisher of Ring Magazine, two years after the magazine’s pay-for-play rankings scandal, and helped rebuild the magazine’s standing in the industry.
Sugar left Ring Magazine in 1983 and, five years later, once again become editor at Boxing Illustrated.
From there, Sugar became a free agent of sorts, publishing more than 80 boxing-related books and making appearances on a variety of boxing TV, radio and internet shows. He also appeared in several boxing-related movies, playing himself, including "Night and the City," "The Great White Hype" and "Rocky Balboa."
The affable expert was a popular figure at ringside for many of the sport’s biggest bouts and was known by fans and fellow journalists as an extremely outgoing, colorful and kind character who had not slowed down a bit in his last years.
”Around ringside, it’s not going to be the same with Bert not there,” Hirsch said.
Frawley said arrangements for a memorial service are still pending and anyone wishing to honor Sugar should make a donation to the boxing hall.