Senior editor Bobby Clay has a surname that people frequently associate with boxing, one of four sports he has been editing at SI. During the 1980s, when he was a sportswriter and occasionally covered boxing, Clay would invariably be asked whether he was related to Cassius Clay. No, he would answer.
Clay's closest claim to athletic fame came when he ran track at Howard Payne College, a small Baptist school in Brownwood, Texas, that he attended for two years. Although he could do the half mile in less than two minutes, Clay decided quickly that he wasn't meant to be a professional athlete. He also felt sure of two other things. After a summer spent as a construction worker in the scorching Texas heat, he knew he wanted "some kind of office job pushing a pencil," he says.
His second conviction? Laughing, Clay says, "I always told my wife, Debra, there was no way I'd ever join the Army, because I didn't want to move around as much as my dad, who spent 20 years in the service."
"At least he got the office job," Debra, a social worker, says wryly.
Much like the boxer who once shared his last name, Clay, 38, has had to stick and move a lot since graduating with a journalism degree from Southwest Texas State. His career has already taken him through eight moves to six different cities in 17 years.
His first journalism job was at a small weekly paper in Copperas Cove, Texas, roughly 60 miles from Austin. "The publisher changed and the other writers all quit in protest, so they made me editor of the whole thing my first week on the job," Clay says. After a year there, he went to a newspaper in Seguin, Texas, near San Antonio. Then he had two stints at The San Antonio Light, separated by one at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He moved to New York to be a senior editor at The National in '89, and when that sports daily folded after 16 months, he signed on as deputy sports editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bobby, Debra and their daughters, Darrah, 12, and Andrea, 5, had been in Atlanta for 3� years when he accepted our offer to become a senior editor. That meant pulling up stakes once again and returning to New York. "When the movers came to our house in Atlanta and saw all those inventory stickers on all our furniture," Bobby says, "one of the guys asked me, 'Jeez, how often do you guys move?' "
To be precise, the Clays have averaged one move every two years of their 16-year marriage, a pace that rivals the eight moves Bobby's family made from Hattiesburg, Miss., to Army posts in Alabama, Germany, Massachusetts and Texas when he was growing up. Although Bobby feels at home after only three months at SI—"We're hoping this is our last stop," he says—Debra isn't getting too comfortable. The Clays have settled into a house in White Plains, N.Y., but she notes, "We're only renting."
We hope they'll apply for a mortgage soon.