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Next Tuesday, I'll be interviewing David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, about his new biography of Barack Obama, The Bridge. I don't really have much to say about David, that you guys don't already know. But I do want to take this opportunity to highlight, not his analysis of Barack Obama, but of Larry Holmes. Here's Remnick writing about Holmes later in his career, and by extension, the decline of heavyweight boxing:


He entered the arena to the sounds of "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," a tune as foreign to the young as "E luceven le stelle." Once inside the ring, Holmes kept his satin robe on for as long as possible, but, like any middle-aged man facing the terrible reckoning of the day at the beach, he soon had to face facts and disrobe. It was instantly apparent that he had been training on doughnuts and naps. 

Covering the ruins of his bulky musculature was the sort of thick coating of insulation traditionally worn by 19th-century bankers and modern TV repairmen. He was very fat. The promoters were hoping that Holmes would triumph and then go on to a big-money fight against the other hulking geriatric of the sport, George Foreman, and so they selected an opponent rather the way royal gamekeepers used to select a particularly lame deer for the king's afternoon hunt.

Maurice--Maurice Harris, of Neward--is 21 and, coming into the fight, boasted a "winning record" most narrowly defined: 9 wins, 8 losses, and 2 draws. From the opening bell onward, Maurice discovered that the old man was very old indeed, and gained confidence. Every time he snapped a jab into Holmes's face, the Holmes family, seated at ringside, would wince as one.

"C'mon Daddy! Double up!"

Daddy could not double up. He could not have beaten Maurice if he had been handed a baseball bat. The fight went the distance, 10 rounds, and one truly feared that Holmes would end up with an attack of angina... He couldn't have won more than 3 rounds. But boxing being boxing, of course, the judges awarded him the fight. "I wish Dady would stop," Holmes's daughter, Kandie, said as the family filed toward the locker rooms. The champ was at his end, and so, too, it seemed, was boxing, though both promised to go on and on.

From Remnick's book Reporting. His Mike Tyson profile, which is in the book, is legend.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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