Bert Sugar

2 minute read
Bernard Fernandez

This is going to sound like the punch line of a familiar joke, but stick with me. Guy walks into a bar. Sits down. For two or three hours, he doesn’t even sip a beer, much less the hard stuff. That guy would be the teetotaling me. So what am I doing in a bar? Listening to my friend, the great boxing writer and commentator Bert Sugar, who died on March 25 at 74, telling stories of the fight game, as only “the Hat” could. On more than one occasion, anywhere the pugilistic arts were on display, I would be invited to repair with Bert to the nearest watering hole so we might talk a little boxing. Invariably, our conversation would evolve into a mini–Mardi Gras as patrons spotted Bert’s trademark fedora and cigar and drifted over for an autograph or a one-liner delivered with the exquisite timing of a Sugar Ray Robinson left hook.

One of the great raconteurs, an uncommonly gifted man with an easy, common manner, Bert somehow found time to write 80-plus books when he wasn’t imbibing, playing himself in a movie or just having fun. I’m pretty sure he slept sometime and maybe even took off his fedora when no one was looking, but don’t hold me to that. He was a true original in a copycat world, and that world became less interesting with his passing.

Fernandez is the boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News

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