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MUHAMMAD ALI by Thomas Hauser

MUHAMMAD ALI

His Life and Times

By Thomas Hauser

Pub Date: June 10th, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-68892-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 A detailed, if hagiographic, account of Ali's public career and private life. Hauser (author of one of the best books ever on the fight game, 1985's Black Lights) is an obvious and uncritical fan of Ali's, whom he apotheosizes early on as ``the most recognizable person on earth.'' In aid of what might be called oral biography, Hauser draws on over 200 sources--acquaintances, associates, opponents, friends, enemies, blood relations, and celebrity observers of the sometime title-holder--to create a composite portrait that's longer on sympathetic assertions than reflective insight. The ranks of the commentators include the oddly coupled likes of: Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. (Ali's dad); Joe Martin (the Louisville cop who taught Ali to box); Olympic teammates; Atallah Shabazz (the daughter of Malcolm X who helped convert Ali to the Nation of Islam); trainer Angelo Dundee; Jimmy Carter; Leon Spinks; George Plimpton; Sylvester Stallone; referee Arthur Mercantee; Chuck Wepner (a human punching bag widely known as ``The Bayonne Bleeder''); and Carl Walker (the black assistant attorney general who tried to make the federal case against Ali for draft evasion). Overall, Hauser does a good job of marshaling a wealth of facts into a cohesive whole and providing behind-the-scenes glimpses of a ring lion in the autumn, if not winter, of his years. Throughout, however, the author makes almost no attempt to conceal the genuine regard and admiration he feels for his subject. A walkover for Ali but a disappointment for those with even a passing interest in the sweet science's grittier realities. (Twenty-four pages of photographs--not seen.)