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THE GREATEST  by Walter Dean Myers Kirkus Star


Muhammad Ali

by Walter Dean Myers

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-54342-3
Publisher: Scholastic

A fascinating and fast-paced biography weaves together the remarkable career of fighter Muhammad Ali with the political movements of the ’60s and ’70s. With barely a wink and a nod to Ali’s private life—this is covered in a couple of paragraphs at the end—Myers (145th Street, 2000, etc.) chooses instead to concentrate on the flamboyant boxer’s professional accomplishments and their roots in American racial injustice. “Who was Cassius Clay? He was a black man who had grown up in a racist South, who had seen black men reaching for brooms when they should have been reaching for the stars.” In the ’60s, Ali was a hero to young people, black and white, bringing his politics to bear on everything he did. When he changed his name, upon joining the Nation of Islam, Ali alienated countless sportswriters who refused to believe his conversion was sincere. When he resisted the draft on religious grounds, he was found guilty of refusing induction. Stripped of his world championship title and denied a license to box in all 50 states, Ali chose to fight outside the ring, taking his appeal to the Supreme Court and winning. Myers makes no attempt to disguise his affection for the man who risked his entire professional career for a principle and came back against tremendous odds. Interspersed with riveting fight scenes and explanations of the political and social backdrop, this biography will introduce a generation of readers who know Ali only as the palsied man who lit the 1996 Olympic torch to the man many sportswriters consider the “Athlete of the Century.” (Biography. 10+)