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Why are the called Long Johns?

October 1, 2022

John L. Sullivan, the "Boston Strong Boy," the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing, from February 7, 1882, to September 7, 1892. He was also the last champion of bare-knuckle boxing.

By Guy Scott

The history of long johns is a funny one. It is believed long underwear got the name “Long Johns” from a big man named John Sullivan, a heavyweight boxer in Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1879. Sullivan bragged that he could lick anyone, anywhere, anytime. Modesty may not have been Big John’s forte, as John became known not only for his hard-hitting, bare-knuckled style of fighting, but also for the mark he left upon the world of fashion. Unlike other fighters of his time, John entered the ring wearing only long underwear. As his notoriety grew, John’s wardrobe took on the identity of the man himself. The term ‘Long Johns’ lives on to this day as a tribute to a truly colourful character!

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