Pain And Violence As A Way Of Life: Muhammad Ali-George Chuvalo II

Leonard Gardner is the author of one of the finest sports novels ever written, Fat City , a masterpiece of the terse style that is, in the words of Denis Johnson, "so precisely written and giving such value to its words that I felt I could almost read it with my fingers, like Braille." Gardner also wrote the… » 10/01/14 9:50am 10/01/14 9:50am

For Some Stupid Reason, Everyone Was Shocked When Clay Beat Liston

Fifty years ago tomorrow, in Miami Beach, 22-year-old Cassius Clay beat the hell out of Sonny Liston and took the world heavyweight crown from the Big Bear. According to the great New York Times sportswriter Robert Lipsyte, "only three of 46 sportswriters covering the fight had picked Clay to win." And who can blame… » 2/24/14 7:59pm 2/24/14 7:59pm

Joe Frazier Was Cooler Than Ali. Discuss.

Joe Frazier died two years ago today. Now is as good a time as any to pay tribute to the former champ through a single photograph that best captured the unbridgeable distance between the two premier fighters of the age — a picture made at the very moment when the rivalry between Ali and Smokin' Joe was coming into… » 11/07/13 9:57am 11/07/13 9:57am

The Meaning Of The First Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali Fight

Over on The Stacks, we're republishing Murray Kempton's classic dispatch from the first Clay-Liston fight, in 1964; you can find the story below. Kempton was an elegant columnist and essayist with a great ear for the overtones and undertones of any public spectacle—mob trials, nominating conventions, HUAC… » 10/08/13 2:00pm 10/08/13 2:00pm

Ali In Exile: The Once And Future Champ Clowns In NYC, 1968

For several years in the late Sixties, while (largely) lesser fighters vied for the heavyweight title and while his great nemesis Joe Frazier was powering his way through the ranks, Muhammad Ali was effectively in exile. Barred from the prizefighting ring for refusing induction into the Army ("War is against the… » 10/02/13 12:40pm 10/02/13 12:40pm

Great Men Die Twice: Muhammad Ali In Decline

Originally published in the June 1989 issue of Esquire. Republished here with the permission of the late author's son, Mark Kram Jr., a wonderful storyteller in his own right. His postscript follows. For a contemporary, but very different, glimpse of Ali, check out Davis Miller's story about his day with the champ. » 9/11/13 3:44pm 9/11/13 3:44pm

Extra! Ali Throws Punch, Hurts Man!

When Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston in their May 1965 title-bout rematch in Lewiston, Maine, a legend was born. Or, more accurately, a legendary controversy was born. Ali (who ditched his Cassius Marcellus Clay "slave" name for his Elijah Muhammad-sanctioned Muslim moniker after defeating Liston in their first title… » 7/17/13 11:32am 7/17/13 11:32am

A Collection Of Your Stories About Meeting Muhammad Ali

On Friday, we republished "My Dinner with Ali," Davis Miller's great story from 1989 about his life-affirming encounter with Muhammad Ali. Almost immediately, the comments section began filling up with readers' own accounts of meeting Ali. You can find a few of those through the links below, but you should really read… » 6/11/13 3:55pm 6/11/13 3:55pm

The Marlins Opened Their New Stadium In The Saddest, Most Awkward Way…

Marlins Park is the new jewel of Miami, and team owner Jeffrey Loria must've figured it wise to use a big-time celebrity with some Miami cred to deliver the ceremonial first pitch ball. (Also, it'd be a sly way of avoiding any boos on what was supposed to be a celebratory moment.) Loria's choice was 70-year-old… » 4/04/12 7:40pm 4/04/12 7:40pm

"Ice The Motherfucker," The Guy From Good Times Screamed At Muhammad…

Earlier this week, an e-mail from John Kaye showed up in my inbox. I didn't know Kaye but soon learned that he'd written the 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam, the ancestor to the Hunter S. Thompson movies of recent years. Kaye had just published a lengthy piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books entitled "Love,… » 1/20/12 3:13pm 1/20/12 3:13pm