Hugh McIlvanney: a friend, a towering presence, and the greatest sportswriter

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Kevin Mitchell recalls the sporting life and passion for journalism of a man who found wisdom, humanity and an endless fascination in the heat of the ring

In the days when cigars were de rigueur at ringside, Hugh McIlvanney would create a dense fog pointedly at odds with the clarity of his writing. It is a wonder the fighters never leaned down and whipped away his Romeo Y Julieta.

Nearby would sit many of his American friends, writers and commentators such as Larry Merchant, Ed Schuyler, Royce Feour and Mike Katz, along with his British colleagues Colin Hart, Alan Hubbard, the Jameses – Lawton and Mossop – his dear pal Ken Jones, Reg Gutteridge, Harry Carpenter, occasionally Ian Wooldridge, sometimes Jeff Powell, always Harry Mullan and a long cast of others who chronicled the heroes and villains of the loveliest, dirtiest game in town. There was no shortage of opinions in those darkened seats.

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Written by Kevin Mitchell
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