Muhammad Ali: A Biography by Anthony O. Edmonds

“Mohammad Ali: A Hero or a Controversial Sports Figure?” Is a captivating piece of writing brought forth by Professor Anthony O. Edmonds in his renowned book Muhammad Ali: A Biography. It is a treat for sports lovers as well as those with great sentiments about black revolutionary history. Edmonds introduces the then less famous sport preserved for peasants and blacks in an insightful way and rich in language. “Closely related to the portrait of boxing as a symbol of national manliness is the connection between boxing and individualism” (Edmonds, 2006).

At a tender age, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay Jr., commences his boxing career in what the majority would say by chance, a burglary that would see him getting his first trainer. The green light to Ali’s career appears as early as 1956 with a win of the National Golden Gloves Championship followed by the Olympic Light Heavyweight Championship. Besides fame, Edmonds introduces Ali’s initial controversy, “…had developed a trademark dancing style in which he taunted opponents…dancing around… daring opponent…” (Edmonds, 2006).

Ali rises as a great sportsman, winning an Amateur Athletics Union and securing a spot at the Olympics. Edmonds paints a picture of not only a lucrative career, but also an individual rising to the needs of the society, through membership of The Louisville Sponsoring Group. “Clay and the syndicate split gross earnings…15 percent of any money Clay made, he would put in a pension fund” (Antony, 2006).

“Ali would soon give America and the World more than a boxer; he would create one of the most controversial… personalities in sports history” (Owens, 2011). Amongst his controversies is his conversion to Islam under the “Black Muslims”, speaking against assimilation of black and white races that he would later renounce. This was followed by a rift between him and Malcolm. This period saw Ali decline an induction into the Army claiming it was against his religious beliefs, Islam, that results in a suspension of his boxing license.

A great comeback unfolds in phenomenal fights, beating his opponents and defending most of his titles i.e. ‘the fight of the century.’ “Muhammad suffered when he wasn’t allowed to fight…because he loved boxing”, Angelo Dundee, his trainer said. His comeback also saw him become a mentor to high school students and taking part in various charity events
Ali, in his last years of boxing, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that sees to his retirement. Even though most people would associate it to the boxing career Ali wrote in his autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly,” I would have had Parkinson’s disease even if I was a baker…” in defense of boxing.

Ali, in spite of his debatable standing on racism and religion, he is delineated as not only a controversial figure, but a hero, an icon. His achievements include winning the National Golden Gloves, an Olympic victory (1960), the world championships, and developing the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center amongst others. Muhammad Ali remains an all-time hero and a great sportsman.

Ali M, Hana Y. A. (2002, 2004) The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey, Simon & Schuster.
Cottrell J. (1968) Muhammad Ali: Who Was Once Cassius Clay, New York, Funk and Wagnall.
Edmonds A.O, (2006) Muhammad Ali: aABibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group.
Hauser T. (1991), Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, New York: Open Integrated Media.
Owens T. (2011), Muhammad Ali: Boxing Champion and Role Model, Edina Minn.