March 26, 2012 / 3:16 PM / 7 years ago

Historian, commentator Bert Sugar dies at 74

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wearing his trademark fedora and brandishing a cigar in his hand, Bert Sugar was a fixture on the fight scene, an historian and commentator on boxing ever ready with an opinion and a wise crack, and the prolific author of more than 80 books.

The former publisher of Ring, Sugar died in New York on Sunday at age 74, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He had been battling lung cancer.

A lawyer who went into advertising in New York, Sugar bought Boxing Illustrated magazine more than 40 years ago to channel his keen interest in sports and he never looked back.

He went on to become editor and publisher of The Ring.

A throwback character who held court at boxing press conferences and in hotel bars, Sugar had opinions on everything and was never shy about expressing them.

He churned out books ranking the greatest moments and performers in sport, many of them constructed with an eye toward settling bar room arguments or perhaps fuelling them.

His books included “The 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time,” “100 Years of Boxing,” and “Sting like a Bee” (with José Torres).

Though mainly associated with boxing, Sugar was a walking encyclopedia about other sports including baseball, football and horse racing.

Born in Washington, D.C., Sugar graduated from the University of Maryland and earned a law degree at Michigan before coming to New York to work in advertising.

Boxing gave the flamboyant Sugar a chance to shine.

He went on to work in TV and radio and appeared in numerous movies, including “Night and the City, “The Great White Hype,” and “Rocky Balboa,” in which he played himself.

Reporting By Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Paul Thomasch

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