King of the World: Muhammed Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

King of the World: Muhammed Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

David Remnick

Language: English

Pages: 252

ISBN: 2:00226657

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There were mythic sports figures before him--Jack Johnson, 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 mold. He changed the world of sports and went on to change the world itself. As Muhammad Ali, he would become the most recognized 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.

Cassius Clay grew up in the Jim Crow South and came of athletic age when boxers were at the mercy of the mob. From the start, Clay rebelled against everything and everyone who would keep him and his people down. He refused the old stereotypes and refused the glad hand of the mob. And, to the confusion and fury of white sportswriters, who were far more comfortable with the self-effacing Joe Louis, Clay came forward as a rebel, insistent on his political views, on his new religion, and, eventually, on a new name. His rebellion nearly cost him the chance to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.

King of the World features some of the pivotal figures of the 1960s--Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, John F. Kennedy--and its pivotal events: the civil rights movement, political assassinations, the war in Vietnam. Muhammad Ali is a great hero and a beloved figure in American life. King of the World takes us back to the days when his life was a series of battles, inside the ring and out. A master storyteller at the height of his powers, David Remnick has written a book worthy of America's most dynamic modern hero.

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through green stained glass, Liston skipped rope to Lionel Hampton’s “Railroad No. 2,” which has a quicker beat than “Night Train.” To the untrained eye he was, as usual, dominating the sparring partners who had been brave enough to remain to the end. “Don’t tell me I’m afraid of Clay,” Liston told reporters at a workout one day. “All I’m afraid of is that if he opens his big mouth wide enough I’ll lose an arm. I gotta redeem myself after letting that Clay take my tide away.… I’ll convert him all

he’s a nice fella. Everybody likes him. He’s got the connection and the complexion to get me the right protection which leads to good affection.” Even in those first fights, Dundee did not see Clay as a reclamation project, his Frankenstein. The idea was to refine what was there, to make him smarter, to have him watch out for the tricks—but to teach it all indirectly, by inference. “Every fighter has things to be worked on,” Dundee said, “At first I wanted to get a little of the bounce out of

Times’s ambassador to the court of baseball or the court of basketball. When Allison Danzig covered the U.S. Open at Forest Hills he did not deign to seek out a tennis player for an interview; the player sought out Allison Danzig. Not a few of the deskmen and reporters were appalled by the unorthodox presence of Gay Talese, and they could never figure out why the managing editor, Turner Catledge, had set him loose on the sporting world. When Talese left the paper in 1965 to write books and

and Malcolm avoided the telephone. But Malcolm could not avoid his own despair over his collapsed relations with the Nation. “I was in a state of emotional shock,” he told Alex Haley. “I was like someone who for twelve years had had an inseparable, beautiful marriage—and then suddenly one morning at breakfast the marriage partner had thrust across the table some divorce papers. I felt as though something in nature had failed, like the sun, or the stars.” Malcolm worried, at times, about the

not already know. Jack Nilon testified that Liston was indeed “a difficult man” to handle, a “neurotic” who refused to train very hard or follow instructions. If he had a case of the sniffles, Nilon said, Liston “acted as if he were dying” and stayed in bed. It was also true, Nilon allowed, that Liston kept company in Miami with various unsavories. “Sonny thinks an awful lot of Mr. Barone,” Nilon testified. “He thinks Pep Barone’s good luck. Sonny’s very superstitious. He won’t let you throw a

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