The Day the War Came for Muhammad Ali

By Leigh Montville From Sting Like a Bee 2017 The day moved slowly. Bob Halloran tried to keep the conversation going in the living room of the small concrete house at 4610 NW 15th Court in the worn-down section of Miami, Florida, that the residents called...

Muhammad Ali in Excelsis

By Peter Richmond GQ April 1998 On the table in front of him sit a copy of the holy Koran and a plate holding three frosted raspberry coffee cakes, and when he leans forward on the couch and reaches out it is not for enlightenment. It is for a piece of pastry. With...

My Dinner with Ali

By Davis Miller The Louisville Courier-Journal 1989 I’d been waiting for years. When it finally happened, it wasn’t what I’d expected. But he’s been fooling many of us for most of our lives. For six months, several of his friends had been trying to connect me with him...

The Best-Kept Secret in American Journalism Is Murray Kempton

By David Owen Esquire March 1982 At the Democratic National Convention in 1980, a small brigade of young reporters dogged the footsteps of a man in a dark green suit. The man picked his way through the crush on the floor of the convention hall, pausing now and then to...

From Louisville to the Nation of Islam

By Dick Schaap Sport 1971 In some ways it seems so long ago: John F. Kennedy was a handsome young Senator, starting to campaign for the Presidency of the United States. In some ways, it seems like yesterday: Richard M. Nixon was starting to campaign for the presidency...

Hunter In Zaire

By George Plimpton From Shadow Box 2014 I had a number of people to see the next day. I dropped in to see Hunter Thompson. I found him in his room. “I got everything stashed behind the pipes,” he said, after he had peeked out a crack in the door to make sure who I...

The Challenger and the Muslims

By Dick Schaap The New York Herald Tribune January 23, 1964 When he was 18 years old, just an amateur fighter with almost no reputation outside his native Louisville, Cassius Marcellus Clay came to New York and, on the corner of 125th St. and Seventh Ave, by the Hotel...

Great Men Die Twice

By Mark Kram Esquire March 1989 There is the feel of a cold offshore mist to the hospital room, a life-is-a-bitch feel, made sharp by the hostile ganglia of medical technology, plasma bags dripping, vile tubing snaking in and out of the body, blinking monitors...

Dumb Broad at a Dumb Fight

By Shana Alexander Life June 4, 1965 Although until last week I had never personally attended a prize fight, I knew what I expected to see. The boxers’ glistening, circling bodies and the hoarse roar of the crowd had become familiar to me through years of exposure to...

Neighborhood Characters

By Joe Flaherty The New York Times October 21, 1979 Of late, whenever one encounters an urbanbased novel, especially one set in Manhattan (or worse yet, in Greenwich Village), it’s odds on to be a claustrophobic affair; the activity is usually limited to treks to...

At Large with Bill Murray

By Harold Conrad Smart July/August 1989 “In the end, everything is a gag.” —Charlie Chaplin It is 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday in January. Bill Murray has just driven his Jeep from Malibu to Palm Springs. I am waiting in his suite at Maxim’s de Paris, an ultrafancy spot in...

Down and Out in Fat City

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader “Sometimes you only get to win one championship.”—Leonard Gardner In 1969, Leonard Gardner’s novel Fat City was published. It a story about boxing and drinking in Stockton, California, about losers losing. “I have a strong sense of...