A little less than a month ago, one of sports’ greatest events celebrated its 40th birthday.
Ali vs. Frazier I at Madison Square Garden pitted two of boxing’s greatest fighters against one another in the most hallowed of arenas.
In the stands of this fight sat Dave Kindred. The same Dave Kindred who won state sportswriter of the year awards 15 times in three different states, has been a weekly columnist at the Sporting News since 1991, has authored nine books and won sports writing’s highest honor, the Red Smith award.
On Wednesday night, that same Dave Kindred was the bi-annual Robison lecturer for the spring semester.
Kindred, who moved to the Peoria area to be closer to his hometown, has been a professor this last semester in the Communications Department.
“My wife and I are both from Atlanta, Ill.,” he said. “It was kind of a time to make one last move and we thought about basically coming. I had spoken to a lot of college classes and liked it. I had a lot of friends who went into teaching and liked it so I thought I’d try [teaching].”
The journalism profession was always in the cards for Kindred.
“I liked to read and write,” Kindred said. “I won a journalism contest for the [Bloomington] Pantagraph at the time. They paid for half my tuition at Illinois-Wesleyan University and I worked at the paper for the other half. And the die was cast. It was what I wanted to do. The first time I read Red Smith, I knew what I wanted to be.”
Throughout his career, Kindred has made many stops across the nation.
“I’ve done everything, I’ve been everywhere,” he said. “I’ve literally been around the world. I’ve done everything in the sports world on the print side that you can do.”
And the greatest thing Kindred said he has ever witnessed?
“The first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight,” Kindred said. “Boxing was as big as it ever would get. They both were undefeated and it was at the Garden. It was at the epicenter of sports at the time.”