Robert Lipsyte grew up in New York City. After graduating from Columbia University,
he worked for the sports department of the New York Times. In 1964 he began
covering professional boxing, especially the career of Muhammed Ali, and later drew
upon his experiences to write The Contender. One of his goals as a writer is
to put sports in the proper perspective: "If we write more truthfully about sports,
perhaps we can encourage kids to relax and have fun with each other--to challenge
themselves for the pleasure of it, without self-doubt and without fear."