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

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

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

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3 thoughts on “King of the World: Muhammed Ali and the Rise of an American Hero (Vintage)

  1. 27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Ali at the height of his powers…, October 16, 2000
    By 
    Andy Orrock (Dallas, TX) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    Remnick is smart enough not to contribute just another Ali biography to the shelves, and instead focuses his efforts on Ali 1960 – 1965…from his post-Olympic days through to the second fight with Liston. These are the years when Ali became Ali…the champ at the height of his powers.
    But there’s a special bonus in this book – a good portion of it deals with Sonny Liston. You talk about your seminal 20th Century characters. They don’t get any more interesting than this guy: the abused son of a sharecropper, long stretches of imprisonment, a fight career directed by mob interests, a violent death. In short, a writer’s dream. Remnick brings Liston together with Floyd Patterson (and you’ll never find a greater constrast) and walks you through these two battles before turning his attention to Ali. Thus, you get a full portrait of Liston prior to encountering the force of nature that was then Cassius Clay.
    The effect is a curious sympathy that you have for Liston as he enters the maelstrom developing around Ali. In most retellings, Liston is cast as the personification of evil. Remnick made me see him in a different light.
    My advice for a great Ali study program:
    1. Watch ‘When We Were Kings’ [Best documentary ever]
    2. Read ‘The Fight’ by Norman Mailer
    3. Read ‘King of the World’
    4. Buy any book featuring Howard Bingham’s photography of Ali.

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  2. 9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    read this book, November 18, 1999
    By A Customer
    This is a great writer that can be appreciated by the boxing fan and non fan alike. At times the narrative is a bit choppy. But in the end this style adds to the reader’s enjoyment as the usual biographical methods become enhanced. The title and cover pic are a little misleading : while Ali is clearly the focus much space is given to (and much is learned about) Liston, Patterson and most interestingly, the whole boxing culture….Bottom line : A great book.

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  3. 6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Knockout, May 5, 2001
    By 
    Tyler Smith (Denver, CO United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    David Remnick delivers a terrific biography of Muhammad Ali with “King of the World,” but this book should never be mistaken for a conventional sports biography. It is also social history and a compassionate yet realistic portrait of America’s guiltiest pleasure: the seamy, yet somehow sometimes heroic world of professional boxing.
    The first thing that struck me when I read the book is that its first section discusses Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay) very little. Instead, Remnick focuses on the two boxers who helped to gave shape to Ali’s legend: Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. The former was a reluctant champion from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, and Remnick brings Patterson’s reticence and self-doubt into full view. The latter was a street thug from an impoverished rural background, a vision of America’s deepest fears about African-Americans.
    Remnick details Liston’s two devastating first-round demolitions of Patterson and illuminates the complicated relationship the public had with Liston. On the one hand, he was despised because of his criminal background and ties to the mob; on the other, Remnick makes clear, he was comforing because he confirmed stereotyped perceptions of black men. One of Remnick’s great accompishments in the book is to humanize Liston without in the least diminishing his surly and even hateful demeanor.
    With Liston the controversial heavyweight champ, the loud, abrasive, seemingly self-confident Cassius Clay, of Louisville, Kentucky, stepped into the national spotlight. Remnick displays the future champion in all his complex glory: his braggadocio, his complex relationship with white people, including his trainer and doctor, his innate intelligence that was paired with his lack of formal schooling, his ability to manipulate the press, and so on.
    Interwoven into his story of how Cassius Clay literally created his life and legend and became the man we know as Muhammad Ali is excellent social history on the civil rights movement and Ali’s relationship with the Muslims, including Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. It is not surprising for those of us who grew up in the ’60s that sport was so mixed up with politics in Muhammad Ali’s day and that he was a key figure in shaping politics. Those who do not remember the time, however, may find it enlightening to realize that there was once an athlete who paid dearly for his political beliefs: Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from the ring for four years for his opposition to the war in Vietnam.
    Remnick brings all of this vividly to life. He manages, in a bare 300 pages, to meld sports, politics, and history into a story that unfolds like a great heavyweight fight. Must read.

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