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The New Haven Register sports department is celebrating our 200th birthday by sharing 200 of the most interesting stories relating to sports in Greater New Haven over the past 200 years. Check back daily for historical updates.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan New Haven appearances

Although wildly popular, boxing was considered a shady and barbaric form of entertainment for much of the 19th century. New Haven was one of several cities in the country to outlaw the sport, and made no exceptions even for world famous fighters like bare-knuckle champion John L. Sullivan.

In 1887, Sullivan, who for years toured North America giving boxing demonstrations, arrived in New Haven for an exhibition at a local opera house. But the board of aldermen denied Sullivan a license, so he lectured a crowd of 500 instead.

The aldermen’s decision to uphold the boxing ban was surely influenced by the spectacle that occurred four years earlier, the last time Sullivan was permitted to spar in New Haven.

Read Chip Malafronte's complete story.

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