By Matthew Hurley: Legendary writer W.C. Heinz died at his home in Vermont on Wednesday. He was 93 years old. Born Wilfred Charles Heinz in Mount Vernon, New York on January 11th 1915 Mr. Heinz would become one of the preeminent sports journalists but he began to make his mark as a war correspondent during World War II for the New York Sun.. Years later, using the pseudonym Richard Hooker, he would work with Richard Hornberger on a novel that would become ‘Mash’. His descriptive writing style was hugely influential on journalists who followed in his wake.
Mr. Heiz would go on to cover countless sporting events but his work as a boxing writer and editor would eventually lead to his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. In 1958 he published his first novel ‘The Professional’ which told the story of a boxer preparing for a fight. Ernest Hemingway rhapsodized about the book calling it the best novel yet written about a prize fighter. Mr. Heinz would later collaborate with Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi on the book ‘Run To Daylight!’ in 1963.
He would then go on to edit ‘The Fireside Book of Boxing’ in 1961 and co-edit the indispensable ‘The Book Of Boxing’ for Sports Illustrated in 1999. His boxing writing brought him four E.P. Dutton Awards for best sports magazine story of the year.
The late David Halberstram said of him in his forward to ‘What A Time It Was’, a 2001 collection of Mr. Heinz’s sports articles, “He wrote simply and well – if anything, he underwrote – but he gave his readers a feel and a sense of what was happening at a game or at the fights, and a rare glimpse into the personalities of the signature athletes of the age.”
Ed Brophy, the Executive Director for the boxing Hall of Fame issued this statement: “He was truly one of the great writers the sport of boxing has ever known. His works were ‘must reads’ for boxing fans and the Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning his passing.”
He is survived by his daughter Gayl and one grandchild.
Flags at the International Boxing Hall of Fame will fly at half-staff in honor of Mr. Heinz.