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I worked with Rocky Graziano and Rocky was certainly a character.
– Dick Schaap
Sugar Ray Robinson was at the top of the boxing world during the 1950’s when it seemed that he would either win or lose the championship about every three or four months.
It’s kind of ironic that the two sports with the greatest characters, boxing and horse racing, have both been on the decline. In both cases it’s for the lack of a suitable hero.
My writing improved the more I wrote – and the more I read good writing, from Shakespeare on down.
I think my mistakes were kind of common – leaning on cliches and adjectives in the place of clear, vivid writing. But at least I knew how to spell, which seems to be a rarity these days.
Cliches and adjectives permeated my prose.
Some people who love boxing might love Mike Tyson, but people outside of the sport are generally repulsed by him and therefore, repulsed by the sport.
I was also in love with the English language.
I got to know Sugar Ray but I certainly would not say we were good friends.
Sugar Ray and talked about doing some articles together or writing a book together but dealing with Sugar Ray was a lot like fighting him. He would fake you in and then he’d drop you.
My top three were Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain and Bo Jackson.
Sportswriters have changed more than sportswriting.
If I got paid, it was no more than five dollars a column, and I still think I was overpaid.
I think on balance, Don King has been bad for boxing. I think he’s done some very good things and I think he did a heck of a job of promoting Ali but I think I could have promoted Ali.
Today, it’s money. There’s no question about that. Unless you endorse a grill that cooks hamburgers and steaks, where else can you make the kind of money that you can make in the ring if you’re good?
Also, I am driven by a wonderful muse called alimony.
I wanted to be a sportswriter because I loved sports and I could not hit the curve ball, the jump shot, or the opposing ball carrier.
Sugar Ray Leonard was as close as anyone came after Ali to being Ali, but he wasn’t Ali.
I came up with new leads for game stories by being observant and clever, by using the many gifts of the English language to intrigue and hook a reader.
I did not choose necessarily on the basis of significance. If you have a vote for the most significant athlete, then you have Ali, then you have Babe Ruth, then you have Michael Jordan.
I just can’t believe all the things I did that decade.
In fifty years of covering the sport, of course Muhammad Ali is by far the dominant figure.
All of journalism is a shrinking art. So much of it is hype. The O.J. Simpson story is a landmark in the decline of journalism.
I began learning the sportswriting business very early in life.