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When Hugh McIllivanney Met Muhammad Ali In ’74

It's 1974, just a few hours after Muhammad Ali has become only the second man to regain the world heavyweight title by defeating George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle."

Legendary sports journalist Hugh McIlvanney, who wrote for British broadsheet The Observer for more than 30 years was granted an audience with the champ at his villa in Zaire. Here’s what happened: READ ON

Incredible Articles From Boxing’s Rich History

Gene Tunney, Ernest Hemmingway and Jack Dempsey

People have been writing about boxing in earnest since the newspaper hacks of their day from both sides of the Atlantic covered the fight between Tom Sayers and John C. Heenan. For me, one of the great tragedies of this sport is that so many great articles by fantastic writers from decades gone by are lost to generations of readers that follow.

That’s why on The Boxing Post you will see many examples of great articles from previous boxing eras that will hopefully give the reader an insight – even a window – into what it was like being there when Ali fought Frazier in 1971, or when Duran beat Leonard in 1980, or when a teenager named Mike Tyson had just turned pro in 1985.

You will see articles from Red Smith, Bud Schulberg, Thomas Hauser, Hugh McIlvanney, Burt Randolph Sugar and Brin Jonathan Butler, to name just a few. Enjoy!

As someone who has had a healthy obsession with the sweet science since discovering Jack Dempsey as a 13-year old schoolboy in the North East of England back in the late 1970s, I know a thing or two about boxing. From competing as a teenage amateur, to being paid to write about it decades later, I’ve learned just two things:

1) Never dismiss the fighters doing great things today, because chances are, they’ll be rated as genuine greats a few years from now.

2) Likewise, don’t judge the greats of yesteryear disparagingly and mock your perceived view that they may lack technique, or have no defense etc. Boxers have had technique since the days of Gentleman Jim Corbett, Jack Johnson and George Dixon. Just watch the Jack Dempsey vs Gene Tunney rematch to see the skills both man showed in abundance in attack and defense respectively, and how little they’ve changed to this day.

The great fighter from the 60s or 70s you mock because they “lack technique” and are poor defensively have likely chosen to fight the way they do because:

  1. A) They do what they know works for them and
  2. B) that so-called poor defense is inviting opponents to try their luck.

Just remember, all of the fighters from the dawn of the 20th century to present day that have been judged to be great by the sports scribes, trainers and boxing experts of their era were indeed just that – great.