This historical-critical case study seeks to better inform the relationship between sports journalism and literary journalism. The study employs a narrative analysis to examine nearly 40 sports features in which acclaimed literary journalist Gay Talese profiled heavyweight champion boxer Floyd Patterson in the 1950s and 1960s. Accordingly, the analysis illustrates how Talese employed literary journalism to cast Patterson as a symbol of the era’s uncertain social conditions. The anthropological concept of liminality informs Talese’s use of literary strategies in these regards. Talese effectively utilized narrative devices involving scene, characters, and emplotment to not merely chronicle events but also to depict the temper of the times. In each context, sports provided the vital raw material necessary for Talese to capitalize on literary journalism and to engage unstable, enigmatic issues associated with race and masculinity during Patterson’s era.