This chapter appears in Part 2 of “Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg,” which was published in the fall (ebook) and winter (paperback) of 2020.
“We’ll never see another newspaper columnist like Jerry. In the golden age of newspapers ー meaning they had money ー Jerry was everywhere at every important event. He also made other events important by his presence.”
Like Jerry Izenberg, Dave Kindred closely followed boxing in its heyday. He also penned a book that captured a big slice of its history. “Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship,” published in 2006, tells the intertwined story of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell.
This gave him a unique glimpse into Izenberg’s work and his approach to his craft. After all, they saw many of the same things and experienced many of the same deadlines while visiting many of the same places for work.
“I most admire his consistency, not only in the excellence of his writing but, more important, in his world view,” Kindred said in 2016. “He was and is a crusader for social justice who used his column to speak truth to power.”
So how did Kindred view his relationship with Izenberg 40 years ago? And in 2016?
“I’m somewhat younger than Jerry and was awed by his reputation in the New York media world,” said Kindred, a former columnist for The Sporting News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post, among others. “I watched him work, read his stuff, and learned how to navigate the big time of sportswriting. Through our mutual reporting on Ali, I came to know him better but I can’t call him a personal friend. He was entirely generous, still, in helping me do the book on Ali and Cosell. As I said in the intro, I think, it’s a book that only three people could have done because only three people knew both those characters the way we did ー Jerry, (Bob) Lipsyte, and me ー and both Jerry and Bob encouraged me to take it on and helped me tremendously.”
A talented wordsmith and consummate reporter, Kindred understands clearly what made Izenberg’s writing unique and important.
“What Lipsyte did in bringing the real world into the sports pages, Izenberg had done first,” stated Kindred without citing specific examples of Lipsyte’s New York Times work. “Only later did I understand that, though. Jerry’s voice ー the way the column sounded, authoritative, argumentative, streetwise ー was his and his alone.”
Returning the focus to Ali, Kindred was asked what was special in his mind about the way Jerry wrote about Ali over the years, including numerous visits to The Greatest’s training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, in the 1970s.
“Beyond Ali’s cultural importance, which Jerry never let his readers forget, he had a fondness for Ali the person that he made clear in every column,” Kindred said.
In conclusion, Kindred expressed great admiration for Izenberg’s career.
“We’ll never see another newspaper columnist like Jerry,” Kindred declared. “In the golden age of newspapers ー meaning they had money ー Jerry was everywhere at every important event. He also made other events important by his presence. His work would serve well as a primer on sports as a piece of society in 20th century America.”
More information about “Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg” is posted in this press release.