By Michael Ezra. “Muhammad Ali is a terrific book. Disciplined, convincing, equipped to deliver on his bold and original thesis, Michael Ezra makes fresh sense not only of Ali as cultural icon and historical figure but of the vast Ali literature and mythos that surrounds him.” —Carlo Rotella, Boston College, author of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) has always engendered an emotional reaction from the public. From his appearance as an Olympic champion to his iconic status as a national hero, his carefully constructed image and controversial persona has always been intensely scrutinized. In Muhammad Ali, Michael Ezra considers the boxer who calls himself “The Greatest” from a new perspective. He writes about Ali’s pre-championship bouts, the management of his career and his current legacy, exploring the promotional aspects of Ali and how they were wrapped up in political, economic, and cultural “ownership.”
Ezra’s incisive study examines the relationships between Ali’s cultural appeal and its commercial manifestations. Citing examples of the boxer’s relationship to the Vietnam War and the Nation of Islam—which serve as barometers of his “public moral authority”—Muhammad Ali analyzes the difficulties of creating and maintaining these cultural images, as well as the impact these themes have on Ali’s meaning to the public. Temple University Press (2009), English, 248 pages.