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Bert Sugar and the Sweet Science

I was sad to hear of Bert Sugar’s death yesterday.

Sugar was a well known figure in boxing circles, an author dozens of times over on the sweet science, and a TV personality and pundit. He was 75.

The NY Times described him as “boxing’s human encyclopedia, a prolific writer and editor and a flamboyant and ubiquitous presence in the world of the ring,” as well as “a television and radio commentator who rarely turned away from a microphone.” 

In the late ’90s, I got to know Bert a little when I was an editor at a cigar magazine, and he was a columnist, writing about just about anything he wanted to.

Editing Bert meant taking his typewritten column off the fax machine and retyping it, while trying to make sense of some of his obscure references, and scrawled notes in the margins.

He was old school to say the least; the guy not only went out for drinks with his editors, but the drinks were Cutty Sark.

Bert Sugar had the fedora. He had the unlit stogie in his mouth. He had a tattered bag full of yellowed newspaper clippings, and would whip out old articles, most of which were about him, to illustrate a point. He had a voice like a jackhammer and a laugh like a howitzer.

Sugar had a lot of great one liners, and I remember a few of his favorites: “If I had my life to live over again, I’d live over an Irish bar”; and “It’s better to be a good liver than to have one.”

I was hoping to reconnect with Sugar after I’d moved to Westchester, not too far from his Chappaqua home, around five years ago, but never did. (Sugar and the Clintons in the same town…did Bert and Bill ever toss back a few whiskeys at the Quaker Hill Tavern? They must have at some point.)

Here’s hoping Bert Sugar will some day live above that Irish bar he always dreamed about.