@hopingfornemesis Hunter S Thompson wrote an utterly knowing and deeply felt couple of pieces about Muhammad Ali for “Rolling Stone” (Nos 264 & 265) published on 4 May 1978 and 18 May 1978. Right after the Ali-Spinks fight. The articles are called ‘Last Tango in Vegas: Fear and Loathing in the Near Room (One)’ and ‘Last Tango in Vegas: Fear and Loathing in the Far Room (Two)’. They were republished in the 1980s in a volume of his collected Journalism called “The Great Shark Hunt”.
The articles are really worth reading and STILL important today not just because Thompson started out three decades before as a Sports Journalist. He also knew what the fuck he was talking about regarding Amerika. But Thompson was sooo savvy about US Politics, the Media and the whole way things worked that these interviews were never gonna be run of the mill. Ali loved talking to Thompson, a guy who knew what the fuck he (Ali) was saying, knew about Sport and knew about Politics and Popular Culture.
No magazine today would DARE publish what was written in those articles back in 1978. No sportsman (there has never been a sportsman figure like Ali before or since) would be allowed to speak in that manner by their agent – or have their words reported verbatim. No journalist today would dare write what Thompson wrote or have the tenacity to write in THAT style and with that directness.
I re-read those articles tonight while I ate my dinner and felt only heightened respect for both of these giants. I realise there really is no-one who can ever fill the empty shoes some people leave behind. On the one hand I am so glad I was around, alive and mature enough to appreciate both those guys while they were still working at some kinda peak. But I mourn the fact that there are very few around now, who could even approach what the pair of them were capable of on a quiet day.