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Muhammad Ali Ringside

Written By John Miller and Aaron Kenedi

by Harvey Frommer

Harvey Frommer - Click to Enlarge

- Muhammad Ali was the greatest. And finally, there is the greatest book about him. Utilizing the words of such heavyweights as Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Reggie Jackson, Pete Hamill, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ali himself, "Muhammad Ali Ringside" (Bulfinch Press Book, $29.95, 128 pp) is a stunner.

The compilers and editors, John Miller and Aaron Kenedi, have put together a feast of Ali from reproductions of fight posters, tickets, rare memorabilia, and timeless photographs.

From the introduction by James Earl Jones, through the literary tour of Ali in the 1960s by Alex Haley to Norman Mailer's section on the 1970s, to Joyce Carol Oates' piece on the 1980s, through Peter Richmond's essay on the 1990s and the boxer's battle of his life with Parkinson's Syndrome, "Ringside" pulls no punches in its honest portrayal of this bigger-than-life sports hero.

The visual images in this oversized and superbly designed book are stunning. There is a 1962 full-page photo of the man known then as Cassius Clay, also known as the “Louisville Lip” in a bathrobe and posturing pose; a Kelly green souvenir program blow-up for a world heavyweight title elimination bout with Archie Moore; a double-page spread of the weigh-in for a fight with a mean-looking Sonny Liston on the scale, a curious Ali taking a peek at the weight, and a crowd of handlers and trainers looking on.

There is Ali preening and adjusting the knot on his tie with the quotes: "I am the greatest . . .I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived."

And there is Ali carrying the torch at the Atlanta Olympics - the mark of Parkinson's Syndrome on him, the power of his personality still vivid. Throughout the book, all kinds of epigrams and blown-up quotes abound adding texture and insight to its subject.

Perhaps the one that is most significant is this one uttered by Ali: "(Boxing's) dying'. I always said it would die when I left. Just look at it - there's Hollyfield, there used to be Tyson. But there's no Muhammad Ali, no kind of hero."

There really is no hero around today quite like Muhammad Ali. Outrageous, courageous, funny, fearless - he was one of a kind. It is just terrific to have this book - part scrapbook, part biography, part record book - all Ali - to keep and to savor!

BOOKENDS: Wonderful hot stove reading is "Wait Till Next Year" by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Touchstone, $13.00, 261pp). We meet the people who influenced her life of the Pulitzer Prize winner and especially her father who taught her the thrills of baseball and the joys of rooting for the old Brooklyn Dodgers. If you have not read this book - go for it - it is a winner

"The Junction Boys" by Jim Dent (St. Martin's Press, $24.95, 290pp) is sub-titled "How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team". And that is what this winning book is about - a 1-9 Texas A&M team in 1954. It makes for really absorbing reading.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd
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on the Web: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer

Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
 

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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