Mark Kram wrote with style, intelligence, and substance about a good many things, though he is best remembered for his boxing coverage at Sports Illustrated during Muhammad Ali’s heyday in the ’60s and ’70s (nevermind his complicated take on Ali that runs counter to the prevailing sentiment). Kram’s account of the third Ali-Joe Frazier fight, The Thrilla in Manilla, is one of the finest deadline pieces of magazine writing ever, and not just in the world of sports.
But as is demonstrated by the writing in Great Men Die Twice, the new anthology of Kram’s work, he was equally skillful when delving into subjects beyond the sweet science. His portrait of Marlon Brando is fascinating, as is the following profile of former DEA agent Michael Levine, which was originally published in the March 1991 issue of Esquire and is reprinted here with permission. Please sink your teeth into “The Betrayal of Michael Levine” for a glimpse of Kram’s talents as a storyteller. Then cop Great Men Die Twice. It’s a keeper.