Born in Washington, D.C., Sugar graduated from the University of Maryland. He earned a JD and MBA from the University of Michigan in 1961. After passing the bar exam, he worked in the advertising business in New York City for ten years. During his time in the advertising business, he worked at several different agencies, including J Walter Thompson, PKL and McCann Erickson. Sugar bought Boxing Illustrated magazine in 1969 and was editor until 1973. From 1979–1983 he was editor and publisher of The Ring. In 1988 he once again began editing Boxing Illustrated. In 1998 he founded Bert Sugar’s Fight Game.
Sugar authored over 80 books, mostly on boxing history. Various boxing books that Sugar has written include Great Fights, Bert Sugar on Boxing, 100 Years of Boxing, Sting like a Bee (with José Torres), The Ageless Warrior (Preface, with Mike Fitzgerald) and Boxing’s Greatest Fighters. Sugar was called “The Greatest Boxing Writer of the 20th Century” by the International Veterans Boxing Association. In May 2009 he and Running Press published Bert Sugar’s Baseball Hall of Fame: A Living History of America’s Greatest Game. Sugar also co-wrote a book about Harry Houdini titled Houdini, His Life and Art with James Randi.
Sugar also appeared in several films playing himself, including Night and the City, The Great White Hype and Rocky Balboa. Interviews with Sugar feature in Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Sugar had been referred to as “Runyonesque” (in reference to Damon Runyon) by Bob Costas, and “one of the foremost historians alive,” by the Boston Globe. Along with Lou Albano, he helped write The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling. He wrote a regular sports column for Smoke Magazine, a quarterly cigar lifestyle magazine. Sugar died from cardiac arrest on March 25, 2012. His family was at his bedside at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. Prior to his death, avid cigar smoker Sugar had spent years battling lung cancer.
- June, 07, 1937
- Washington, D.C.
- March, 25, 2012
- Mount Kisco, New York