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4.7 out of 5 stars45
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2001
As a young boy Ali was my first hero. I can vividly remember all the hype before the first Liston fight and seeing the legendary 'Tale of the Tape' section in my local paper, and then watching the fight highlights on tv the next evening. Liston was superbad, the bookies didn't give Ali a chance, the rest is history. I've read just about everything ever written in book form about Ali, and this book is at the top of the pile. The book is more than a story of a boxer and a few of his most famous fights. It's about race, injustice and bigotry. It's also about boxing, and has great insights into what kind of people Liston and Patterson were. We will never see another like Ali, there is not a boxer in this world who is fit to lace his elegant white boots. I can only hope that Remnick goes the whole hog and does another book on Ali. Ali is probably the most famous and recognisable person alive in the world today. One would think that everything that could be has been written about Ali in the past, but Remnick has gone way beyond round 15 and conjured up another victory in the fight for justice in life, race and understanding why men go into the ring and risk everything just to be King of the World.
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on 10 December 2000
Muhammad Ali has always been a hero of mine, but it wasn't until I read this book that I fully realised the various stresses all pulling on the young man. From the racist attitude of the boxing press to the influence of the Nation of Islam, Ali rises above it all with a natural wit and a boxing style and elegance all of his own. David Remnick paints an evocative portrait of the time and gives a keen insight into the internal politics surrounding the fight game, the Black Muslims and the boxing press.
Remnick intersperses the book with well researched pieces covering the social history of boxing and the principal protagonists within the sport. This enhances the appeal of Ali and demonstrates just how he broke the mould when he burst onto the scene. The book also clarifies some of the myths surrounding the man and brings a new understanding to where and what he came from. It allows the reader access to the thought processes of Ali, Louis, Liston and Patterson and leads to a renewed sympathy for some of the great names of the fight game and their subsequent decline in later years.More than anything, the book makes you want to review your old fight videotapes and marvel at the skill of a man who surely was "The Greatest".
I wish Remnick would now complete the tale beyond 1967, I am sure that it would be an immediate bestseller.
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on 21 March 2001
I did not believe that Thomas hauser's famous effort could have been beaten, but by concentrating on a relatively brief period this wonderful biography captures both the remarkable spirit and personality of this great fighter as well as capturing the essence of the early sixties which were such a pivotal period Superbly written, intelligent and unputdownable
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on 11 February 2001
As a Muhammad Ali fan I feel that 'King of the World' is for everybody and not just for Ali or boxing fans.
With this book, the early professional career of Muhammad Ali is explored with the introduction of various characters. Malcolm X was the spiritual and religious influence of Muhammad Ali. Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson are revealed with the public perception of them. The same public struggles to comprhend and accept the flambouyant and outrageous character of Muhammad Ali, (known as Cassius Clay at the time) who has just exploded onto the scene. David Remnick explores the impact of Muhammad Ali in the ring and to the rest of the world.
David Remnick has captured the true magic of Muhammad Ali with his superb writing style making the whole experience extremely entertaining.
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on 6 December 2000
I cannot praise the author enough after reading this. I was too young to appreciate Muhammed Ali when he was around, apart from seeing his frequent appearances on "Parkinson" so I was fascinated to read about his career. And Mr.Remnick did not disappoint. His writing style is excellent...even a non boxing fan could gain something from reading this. The fight scenes are quite extraordinary. My only disappointment is that the book stopped where it did. I wanted it to carry on until the end of his career. I hope he has plans for a second volume.
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on 25 April 1999
Head and shoulders the best and most balanced of the numerous Ali biographies I have read, this book - like the man himself - transcends sport. Remnick is a master communicator in print who delves deeply into the culture and times of the early sixties to present a unique tale of the man who defied the establishment - both white and black - and ultimately indeed became "King of the World". This book is really three biographies in one, with the stories of Charles "Sonny" Liston and Floyd Patterson, although as in life overshadowed by Ali, still fascinating in their own way. This book manages to both entertain and educate in a most enjoyable manner. What more can you ask?
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on 18 January 1999
At a time when the phrase, "You the man" seems to be applied to every "wannabe" during every sporting event on TV, this book tells the tale about the person who really is THE MAN! The mystique that is Ali comes to life as a truly special person . . a man who, though basically illiterate (he was initially given an 87 IQ (sub-intelligent) by his draft board), who never learned to read, and who has lived a large part of his adult life without being able to express himself. I found it fascinating to learn about his exposure to religion and his endorsement of a philosophy that was interpreted incorrectly by most of the newspaper reporters who covered his rise to the Championship during the 60's. This book, which follows Ali for a short period of his career . . . the 1st Liston bout up to the Patterson fight . . . casts a giant floodlight and illuminates many of the shadows that have confused many of us about this legend. I now know why . . . (I really never was able to understand my instincts before this read) I have come to regard this guy as "the Greatest" ! David Remnick should receive another Pulitzer Prize for this one.
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on 8 November 1998
Like Lenin's and Resurrection, Remnick's new book on "the greatest" not the smartest, is well-written and interesting. It places Ali in his historical context by first introducing us to Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. His book reminds us that Ali was a very controversial figure in the first half of his career. The book is really about race and politics interwoven with an excellent overview of boxing. I only wish Remnick would have focused a little more on what Ali did when he was banned from boxing from 1967-71 while fighting the draft and why he was banned from boxing during these years. I think he should have explained the basis for the Supreme Court's 1971 ruling in Ali's favor. I highly recommend the book. Amazon gives a great discount.
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on 9 February 1999
this is a powerful and poignant portrayal of Ali and the astonishing impact he had on the world of the 60s and on those around him -- the brutish and ultimately fearful Liston, the chronically insecure Patterson, the hoods, Black Muslims and braying boxing journalists. It contains the unforgettable image of the angry young Ali towering over the prone Liston in their second fight. And near the end it contains one of the most eloquent denunciations of the noble art of boxing -- "There is beauty in it -- there is terrible beauty in battle too, particularly for the non combatant -- but if you meet enough former boxers, if you try to decipher their punch drunk talk, you begin to wonder. What beauty is worth this? What is worth Floyd Paterson's confusion? What is worth Jerry Quarry left so damaged after all the pounding or Wilfred Benitez left raging at his ghosts? And these were the top fighters, the men who meted out more punishment than they got. What of the would-bes, the professional opponents with records of 47-44, their ears cauliflowered and their minds forever rattled? What of them?"
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on 4 April 1999
This book significantly broadened my understanding of Ali's critical role in helping Black America face White America on eye-to-eye, if not equal, terms. Ali is the rarest of characters, and Remnick does a remarkable job of presenting a story of considerable, although presently underrated, historical significance in a lucid, educational and always entertaining manner.
A great read!
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