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There were mythic sports figures before him - Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio - but when Cassius Clay burst onto the sports scene from his native Louisville in the 1950s, he broke the mould.
He changed the world of sports and went on to change the world itself.
As Muhammad Ali, he would become the most recognised face on the planet. Ali was a transcendent athlete and entertainer, a heavyweight Fred Astaire, a rapper before rap was born. He was a mirror of his era, a dynamic figure in the racial and cultural battles of his time.
This unforgettable story of his rise and self-creation, told by a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, places Ali in a heritage of great American originals.
About the Author
David Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker. He began his career as a sportswriter for the Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Lenin's Tomb. He is also the author of Resurrection and The Devil Problem and Other True Stories, a collection of essays. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
An extraordinary book, meticulously researched and fluently written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. Remnick tells a story which, without his help, would be hard to fatham now. Ali Rose to re-define a sport that had been defined by Good Negroes (such as Floyd Patterson) and Bad Negroes (such as Sonny Liston, with who's life, interestingly, Mike Tyson wholly identifies). Ali brought the ring craft and speed of a middleweight to a division that presumed that Liston was unbeatable. Having seen Liston stay on his stool rather than fight on, Ali then shocked America by turning to the Nation of Islam. In a single move, he became the first heavyweight of recent times not to be 'owned' by the Mafia and became a demon to large parts of America, both white and black that saw the 'Black Muslims' as a threat as big as communism. Ali's fight for black civil rights is part of history now, so to read it as a blow-by-blow account is a revelation for those too young to remeber. Patterson defined himself as a good black man fighting a segregationist evil, while another (black) fighter Ernie Terrell refused to use Ali's Islam name and insisted on calling him Cassius Clay. Ali's response was to prolong the fight, jabbing his already beaten opponent in the face, shouting 'What's my name? What's my name?'. The book takes us up to Ali's refusal to be drafted into the Army to fight in Vietnam 'I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong'), a stance for which he was vilified at the time, but one which finally gained him respect, as the unjustness of the war sank in. He now transcends his sport ('Ali and boxing are two different subjects, as his doctor says) and has become an icon. This tells the story of the building of that icon. Social history, sport and biography in one superb bundle. (Kirkus UK)
Published: 1st March 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.33