The Longest Day of Sugar Ray

By Dave Anderson True 1964 The great ones never lose their style. Even today Joe DiMaggio swings the bat majestically in the Old Timers games. Sammy Baugh can show a rookie quarterback how to lead a receiver slanting across the middle. Put Eddie Arcaro up on a...

The Better Man

By Juan Williams The Washington Post Magazine May 17, 1987 When I was a little boy, the one event I dreamed of seeing in person was a big prizefight. Other sports were on television or available to a kid who wanted to sell Cokes. The big fights were in exotic places...

The Champ and the Chump

By Murray Kempton The New Republic March 7, 1964 Just before the bell for the seventh round, Cassius Clay got up to go about his job. Suddenly, he thrust his arms straight up in the air in the signal with which boxers are accustomed to treat victory and you laughed at...

Battling Siki

By John Lardner From White Hopes and Other Tigers 1951 Hell’s Kitchen, the region west of Eighth Avenue around the Forties, won its name many years ago and continued to deserve it until about the time the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed. Things are different there...

Bedtime Story

By Carlo Rotella From Playing in Time 2012 I was in a city far from home, working on a magazine story. I spent the day and evening going around asking questions, watching people do what they do, filling up a couple of pocket notebooks. Among other places, I visited...

“Make Way For Brother Mike!”

By Richard Hoffer From A Savage Business 1998 At this time of year, at this time of morning, it was still dark. A small crescent moon hung in the Indiana sky and, beneath it, four helicopters balanced, as if some fantastic throbbing mobile had been constructed for the...

The Fight: Patterson vs. Liston

By James Baldwin Nugget February 1963 We, the writers—a word I am using in its most primitive sense—arrived in Chicago about ten days before the baffling, bruising, an unbelievable two minutes and six seconds at Comiskey Park. We will get to all that later. I know...

The Good, The Bad and The Marvelous

By Pete Dexter Esquire May 1985 All right, let’s start with the head. Say check-out time is 1:00 and everybody who reads this magazine is stuck in a room at a Holiday Inn somewhere in Louisiana because nobody can figure out how to unlock the security chain, and...

Night for Joe Louis

By Red Smith The New York Herald Tribune October 27, 1951 [This column is collected in American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith] Joe Louis lay on his stomach on a rubbing table with his right ear pillowed on a folded towel, his left hand in a bucket of ice on the...

The Loser

By Gay Talese Esquire March 1964 At the foot of a mountain in upstate New York, about sixty miles from Manhattan, there is an abandoned country clubhouse with a dusty dance floor, upturned barstools, and an untuned piano; and the only sounds heard around the place at...

Rocky’s Road

By Joe Flaherty Film Comment August 1982 For sheer emotional impact, the two movies that struck a deep societal chord over the last decade were Death Wish and Rocky. The first is easy to fathom. Charles Bronson (if he’s frightened, we’re not paranoid) cinematically...

Sympathy For the Devil

By Joe Flaherty Inside Sports January 1981 All lives are failures in some degree or another. Somewhere along the line we fudge the pristine youthful dream. Even when we achieve, the compromises we’ve made, the injuries we’ve inflicted sully the prize. But most of us...