More Than Just the World’s Greatest Boxer

Book Review: King of the World, a biography on Mohammad Ali

You may of heard of Muhammad Ali. But have you really heard about all of him? Not just a boxer, but an activist, an advocate for social justice, an Olympic gold medalist.

He’s so much more than “just a boxer.”

The biography King of the World focuses on the life of, you guessed it, Mohammad Ali. I liked this book a lot. It focuses on more than just boxing. It focuses on parts of Ali that we never really learn about in history

But Ali never started out as Ali. He started out as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a lightweight boxer who was told he would never get into the big leagues for being too lightweight and black.

But that didn’t stop him. Cassius looked up to major boxers in his lifetime. For example, the author, Remnick, talks about Ali being inspired by big names like Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson, both also African American boxers.

As you may have guessed, this was the 60’s. Racism was very prominent in these times. Cassius being a black man outraged many during these times. Especially white sports writers.

Most of Clay’s fame came from his sheer charisma and personality. In addition Clay’s life wasn’t just about boxing.

The book explains how Clay was on his way to become a devout Muslim. It goes in depth about the religion itself, and how Muslims thought that boxing was exploiting black men. Clay joined the Nation of Islam, with notable members like Malcom X and Elijah Muhammad

Initially, Clay wasn’t allowed to join. But then, after Clay challenged Sonny Liston in 1964, whose title of heavyweight champion of the world was usurped, his membership was publicized. The religion was mainly focused an anti-white society. They name the whites the “devil race.”

Soon after, it was announced that Cassius Clay’s new name was Muhammad Ali, announced on radio by Elijah Muhammad. The name Muhammad means “one who is worthy of praise” and Ali means “most high.” Only a few journalists accepted this name, though.

The reason Ali changes his name is that his former name, as stated by him, was a “slave name” and how he was named after a white man who, although emancipated slaves, still held on to white supremacy.

Ali’s contribution to the civil rights movement was astronomical. In a way, he flaunted his blackness and wasn’t afraid to say so. He was good friends with Malcom X—after X split from the Nation of Islam, Ali split from his friendship with Malcom.

Following so, the Vietnam war occurred. Having to serve in the war, Ali protested by saying it was against the Quran. Many called him a draft dodger. But this was simply not the case!

Ali called himself a conscientious objector, which is the right to refuse military service on the grounds of religion. This is a big difference from a draft dodger. Arrested for refusing to partake in the US armed forces, Ali was stripped of his boxing license.

During his freedom after jail, Ali became a speaker to turn people against war and for the civil rights movement. He inspired many with this decision, including myself. I like how the book doesn’t only portray Ali’s boxing career, but his impact in the world.

Ali also inspired many with the civil rights movement. In addition sheer bravery of being agains the Vietnam war was unheard of. Many turned against Ali at this time. But that didn’t stop him

During his later years, Ali spoke at historically black colleges about the support of education. He also helped many in other countries, like Nigeria and Gana.

The main takeaway of this book is honestly to speak your truth all the time. Up until his death, ali always spoke his mind and never hid it. It’s an admiral trait to have, right?

He always had many accomplishments. An Olympic gold medalist of the Rome Olympic Games, title of heavyweight champion. But again, this book explores more than that.

It took me a long time to choose this book. I had asked my parents about it, and they mentioned Ali. I never knew who he really was until I did my own research. He’s more than “just a boxer”

I hope that Ali will get more representation about his impact on history and the civil rights movement as an activist and member of the Muslim religion. I am glad that this book has educated me on such matters!