Immortal words for a good a gallant man

If there is a finer opening to a piece of sports writing then I don’t know of it: ‘It was only a moment, sliding past the eyes like a sudden shifting of light and shadow, but long years from now it will remain a pure and moving glimpse of hard reality, and if Muhammad Ali could have turned his eyes upon himself, what first and final truth would he have seen?’

The writer is Mark Kram and it is the first sentence of his piece for Sports Illustrated about the Thrilla in Manila in 1975, when Ali and Joe Frazier pummelled each other to brink of extinction. There are some more mature grapes on this ancient vine, still writing, who were there in person but in order for my own generation to taste the unique flavour of the heavyweight circuit in its glory days of the 1970s, the second hand will have to do………..

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