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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Prize belt presented to John L. Sullivan, bare-knuckle boxing champion, in 1887
Prize belt presented to John L. Sullivan, bare-knuckle boxing champion, in 1887

The "Boston Bully," Sullivan was the most famous sports figure of his day. To honor their hometown hero, Boston fans raised $10,000 for this elaborate trophy. Encrusted with 350 diamonds (now lost) and decorated with Sullivan's portrait and crossed Irish and American flags, the gold-plated belt has this inscription: "Presented to the champion of champions by the people of the United States." In 1983 the Smithsonian acquired Sullivan's belt for its sports history collection.

See also: Popular Culture Memorabilia, Sports Memorabilia

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