Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine

IWU receives Kindred collection

The life of a great sportswriter is revealed in new archives collection.

(From IWU Magazine, Summer 2016)

Story by KIM HILL

National Hall of Fame sportswriter Dave Kindred ’63 has donated a wealth of materials documenting his 50-year career to the University’s Tate Archives and Special Collections

Dave Kindred

Kindred talked shop with editorial staff while visiting the Argus office this spring. In previous years Kindred has passed along his writing savvy by teaching a May Term course on editorial writing.

The Dave Kindred Collection comprises approximately 45 boxes of material, a significant portion pertaining to Muhammad Ali. Kindred first began writing about Ali 50 years ago, as a young sports reporter for the newspaper in Louisville, Ky., Ali’s hometown. The collection includes audio recordings of interviews Kindred conducted for his 2006 book Sound and Fury, a portrait of the decades-long relationship between Ali and sportscaster Howard Cosell. 

Kindred said he believes he has written more about Ali than anyone else over the past 50 years. In recent media interviews marking Ali’s death, Kindred spoke about interviewing the heavyweight champ in bed in a Las Vegas hotel suite and another memorable encounter while careening down an old logging road in the Pennsylvania woods with Ali driving his Cadillac at 80 miles per hour.

The collection contains more than 300 of Kindred’s reporter’s notebooks, scrapbooks from his trips covering the Olympics and personal correspondence with readers, friends and family members. That correspondence includes firsthand accounts of the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attacks contained in letters Kindred wrote to his mother.

“The Kindred acquisition is something that is rare in my experience,” said University Archivist Meg Miner. “It is remarkable that we have the entirety of his work life to share with others.”

The collection is “basically the whole broad array of what a journalist does, and it’s represented in the way that I did it for 50 years,” said Kindred, who believes his attention to his craft may be one of the collection’s most notable aspects. His focus was influenced, in part, by his fascination with the craft of athletes. “Every event I go to, I always want to look for something I haven’t seen before. So when I see something I haven’t seen before, I want to find out why that happened.”

Kindred and Cosell

Kindred (far left) and his then-boss, George Solomon of the Washington Post, chat with celebrated sportscaster Howard Cosell, circa 1979. The decades-long relationship between Cosell and Muhammad Ali is the subject of Kindred’s book Sound and Fury. 

A notable facet of the collection, said Miner, is its many letters from readers. Kindred said he understood the passion readers felt if they took the time to write him about a story or column he had written. Whether they admired him or called him names, he nearly always wrote back. “When I was a teenager I wrote a letter to a sportswriter in Chicago. I never got an answer, so I had resolved early on, anytime that anyone wrote to me, I answered.” 

Kindred is currently a contributor to Golf Digest following a career writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Washington Post and Sporting News. Over his career he has covered every major U.S. sporting event, many of them multiple times. A member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, Kindred was enshrined in the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame and received the Curt Gowdy Award for outstanding contributions to basketball. He is the 2012 winner of the Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism, and received the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award for lifetime excellence in sports journalism as well as a lifetime achievement award in journalism from the Professional Golfers’ Association. 

A native of Atlanta, Ill., Kindred attended IWU on a journalism scholarship provided by the Bloomington Pantagraph. He worked part-time at the paper during college, and played varsity baseball for Titan coach Jack Horenberger ’36. In 1998, he received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“My four years at Illinois Wesleyan shaped the next 50 years of my life,” Kindred said. “I had the great good fortune to be able to write about anything involving the sports world in any way that I wanted.

Miner estimates the Dave Kindred Collection will be available to the public in late 2017.