A biography that--like Ali--jumps around more in the early years than in recent ones. Hano omits the first eleven entirely, beginning instead when Cassius Marcellus Clay, at twelve, had his bicycle stolen and started working out at the local gym. Thereafter, the uphill climb is chronicled matter-of-factly, with occasional timeouts for intrusive generalizations (ethnic purity, the school system), rationalizations for a poor school record, and a few bloodless comments from family and associates like trainer Angelo Dundee. Ali's trials--the backlash after conversion, the stripped title--are presented skimpily but honestly, and the comeback trail--more PR than KO--is considered, with three fights examined in detail, the others mentioned briefly. Hano, although no heavyweight, nevertheless has a grip on Ali as artist and con artist, ""in some ways an adolescent,"" who became a symbol even after the loss to Frazier in 1971. Overall, however, this is routine biography, tripping gingerly over domestic bouts and the rocky times between dethronement and restoration, with more punchlines than punch and--remarkably--no sign of Howard Cosell.