Sugar’s pals won’t forget writer’s wit and warmth

Bert Sugar was buried Saturday in New York, six days after his death, and throughout the week tributes poured in for the fedora-wearing, cigar-chewing raconteur.

Sugar, 75, was a walking encyclopedia on boxing, but also baseball, football, basketball and horse racing. He was the longtime editor of The Ring magazine, author of 80 books and a 2005 inductee to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

But Sugar’s legacy also lives in the countless friendships he cultivated during decades in boxing before his death March 25 from cardiac arrest. He had been in declining health, having been diagnosed with lung cancer in October.

Fellow Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Sugar Ray Leonard, in Las Vegas for the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament, called Sugar a “special personality.”

“Bert and I became very close,” Leonard said. “He had a persona about him that people loved to be around him.

“He was a great storyteller, too. I’d hang out with him and listen to him talk about my fights, and it was fascinating.”

Former Review-Journal boxing writer Royce Feour fondly recalled Sugar.

“Bert Sugar was one of a kind,” Feour said. “If there was a boxing writer who could ever be described as an icon, it was Bert. He was colorful and a character, of course, but he had substance. He was an expert historian on boxing and was the go-to guy on the subject.

“He was always ready to help anyone who asked a question about boxing history. He was so funny and often answered with a good one-liner.”

Sugar, who had been a lawyer and dabbled in advertising before turning to journalism in the early 1960s, knew how to attract a crowd.

“He was more popular than most boxers,” Feour said. “I remember going to lunch with him one time in particular at the MGM Grand, and in the short walk from the press room to the seafood restaurant, I couldn’t count the times people stopped him and asked to get a picture of him. And Bert did stop — gladly — and posed for a picture for every one of them. It took us forever to get to lunch.

“Former champion Shane Mosley once walked from the casino to the MGM arena and not one person stopped him for an autograph or a picture. That would never have happened to Bert Sugar.”

■ RIOS-ABRIL OFFICIALS — The Nevada Athletic Commission selected Vic Drakulich of Reno to referee the WBA lightweight title fight between Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 22 knockouts) and Richard Abril (17-2-1, eight KOs) on April 14 at Mandalay Bay. The judges, all from Las Vegas, will be Jerry Roth, Adalaide Byrd and Glenn Trowbridge.

■ RUIZ SUSPENDED — Super flyweight Michael Ruiz was suspended for seven months and fined $1,050 by the Nevada Athletic Commission because he tested positive for a banned substance following his Jan. 20 loss to Matt Villanueva at the Palms.

Ruiz tested positive for furosemide, a diuretic, after being stopped in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-rounder.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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