Maybe it was the way his life transected areas that define America – race and religion; war and sports – or perhaps it was his own love for words. Whatever the reason, Muhammad Ali’s life and career inspired writing that was nearly as captivating as the man himself.
With Ali – The Greatest – now dead at age 74, here’s a list of some of the best stories written about him. Ali’s large personality was perfectly suited to books, such as Norman Mailer’s The Fight. For this subjective list, we’re looking at shorter pieces. Feel free to share your favorites in the comment section.
‘Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great’ – Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated, 1975
“True to his plan, arrogant and contemptuous of an opponent’s worth as never before, Ali opened the fight flat-footed in the center of the ring, his hands whipping out and back like the pistons of an enormous and magnificent engine. Much broader than he has ever been, the look of swift destruction defined by his every move, Ali seemed indestructible. Once, so long ago, he had been a splendidly plumed bird who wrote on the wind a singular kind of poetry of the body, but now he was down to earth, brought down by the changing shape of his body, by a sense of his own vulnerability, and by the years of excess. Dancing was for a ballroom; the ugly hunt was on. Head up and unprotected, Frazier stayed in the mouth of the cannon, and the big gun roared again and again.”