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Author With Central Illinois Roots Interviewed Ali In Bed

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Hall of Fame sportswriter and central Illinois native Dave Kindred knew Muhammad Ali about as well as any author or columnist. Kindred wrote the book Sound and Fury in 2006, detailing the complicated relationship between Ali and legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell.

During a Sound Ideas interview, Kindred said Ali always referred to him as 'Louisville' (a reference to Ali's hometown, where Kindred worked when the two first met 50 years ago).

"I'm not sure he ever knew my name, but he always knew I was his hometown guy," said Kindred.

Throughout his illustrious sportswriting career, Kindred covered 17 Ali fights, including 10 heavyweight championship bouts.

"The first of those was in Madison Square Garden against Joe Frazier in 1971. It began a long relationship," said Kindred.

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He once interviewed Ali in bed. Kindred said it came about in Las Vegas before a fight when Ali's hotel suite was overrun by people. Kindred, from a nearby hall, eyed Ali, who was lying beneath the sheets in his hotel bed, when the champ motioned to him to come into the room.

"Then, he raised the corner of the sheet and said, 'get in bed!' so I did. I was a reporter in search of a story. He took my notebook and wrote down the names of the people in his entourage, which was my goal that day. One of us had clothes on," chuckled Kindred. "He loved the media. He loved the attention. It gave him energy. He drew from it."

Kindred, who was writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal at the time, later went on to write for the Atlanta Constitution, Washington Post and other national newspapers and print outlets. He currently lives near Carlock.

Muhammad Ali will be buried Friday in his hometown of Louisville, following a funeral that will include eulogies from former President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel.

 

Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.