"I always watched television," says Senior Reporter Wilmer Ames. "My earliest memories are of staying up with the lights off, watching old movies, and I may be one of very few people living in a two-bedroom apartment with three TV sets and two VCRs."
This passion considerably reduces the degree of difficulty of one of Ames's regular responsibilities at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, that of researching our TV/RADIO columns, such as the one on page 71 of this issue. Ownership of a 19-foot sloop also puts him one up as our sailing reporter, as did the two years he spent in medical school at Rutgers when he tackled the article on brain injuries in boxing (SI, April 11), for which he and Senior Writer Robert Boyle shared the byline. Ames took the same battery of neuropsychological tests the boxers did, but failed to sneak his brain past Dr. Ozzie Siegel. "Wilmer Ames?" Siegel said, reviewing the results. "He can't be a boxer. He's obviously never been hit in the head."
The fact is, Ames's range of interests is so wide that he's statistically likely to bring something extra to his assignments. It will be a comfort to parents who can't pry their kids loose from TV to learn that he has written pieces on subjects ranging from laser eye surgery to Angie Dickinson (one of two cover stories he has done for PEOPLE magazine). At one point, while he was freelancing from 1972-74, the food writer who had been doing a meal-a-day column for a women's magazine took off for Paris, leaving no recipes for the upcoming month. Ames, a mean man with a menu, who had been working with the writer, teamed up with her secretary and the two of them spent three days in the columnist's apartment, shuttling between the kitchen and the library, whomping up a month's worth of dinners. "We'd just cook the meals and eat them," Ames recalls.
Cooking remains one of Ames's enthusiasms, though clearly he hasn't been eating 10 dinners a day. Indeed, he has a fitness book to his credit, written with Chuck Norris, the martial arts star of such films as Good Guys Wear Black and, most recently. Lone Wolf McQuade. It came out two months ago (Toughen Up: The Chuck Norris Fitness System: Bantam Books, $10.95).
Born in Virginia and raised in New Jersey, Ames graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1970 and later earned an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. In 1974 he decided that medicine was a more sensible, secure profession than free-lance writing, but after two years he concluded that however sensible and secure a profession it might be, it wasn't for him.
It was in 1976, while he was still trying to decide on a career, that Ames came to SI as a temporary receptionist. One day Assistant Managing Editor Jeremiah Tax dropped by for what Ames somewhat later realized had been an interview. Tax had been reading his clippings, with the result that Ames has been writing and reporting for us ever since.
AMES: CHEF DE MORE OEUVRES THAN JUST OMELETS