Born in Boston in 1858 to Irish Immigrants.Sullivan was nicknamed The Boston Strongboy. As a youth he was arrested several times for participating in bouts where the sport was outlawed, and he went on exhibition tours offering people money to fight him. In 1879, he challenged anyone in America to fight him for $500.
In 1883 - 1884 Sullivan went on a coast-to-coast tour by train with five other boxers. It was scheduled to comprise 195 performances in 136 different cities and towns over 238 days. To help promote the tour, Sullivan announced that he would box anyone at any time during the tour under the Queensberry Rules for $250. He knocked out eleven men during the tour.
In Sullivan's era, no formal boxing titles existed. He became a champion after defeating Paddy Ryan in Mississippi City, near Gulfport, Mississippi on February 7, 1882. Modern authorities have retroactively labelled Ryan the "Heavyweight Champion of America", but he could certainly be considered as much a "world champion" as Sullivan. Depending on the modern authority, Sullivan was first considered world heavyweight champion either in 1888 when he fought Charley Mitchell in France, or the following year when he knocked out Jake Kilrain in round 75 of a scheduled 80-round bout. But in truth, neither match was considered at the time to be about determining a world heavyweight champion.
When the modern authorities talk of the heavyweight championship of ...