Saturday, June 16, 2007


Book Review by Carol Taylor

The Muhammad Ali Handbook
by Dave Zirin
431 pages
ISBN 978-1-84072-684-8
Published by MQ Publications Ltd.
Text Copyright 2007 by Dave Zirin

This delightful, chunky, easily-handled prince of a book has to be one of the most satisfying publications I've ever experienced 'cause not only is it so pretty, it's also so well written.

Even if one isn't particularly a sports fan/buff, savoring the beautiful and historical photographs will impart a vitallly important education about the U.S.A. government which probably most folk've never had.

Having heard the author, Dave Zirin, often on WBAI Radio in New York City, with his witty and 'right on' social/sports commentary - often about the untreated colorism in sports - I had just accepted as fact that he was Black. Ha! Was I sharply shocked to see his photo in the back of the book - he's white! (Musta' grew up in the Black 'hood, Yo!) Reading and listening to his many 'taking-up-the-cudgels' for people of color in the sports fields, I could've sworn the man wore a skin of observable melanin!

Anyhow, the book describes, with attractive flair, the very political and controversial career of the World Boxing Champion, that gorgeous gladiator once known as Cassius Clay, Jr. For it to be called a 'handbook' is quite apt (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it's "a concise reference book"), but the savvy quality of the writing and the frequency and clarity of the photographs place it in a category far beyond the run of the mill handbooks. It is a veritable classic and should be required reading and discussion in every formal education classroom.

The 'Muhammad Ali Timeline' decorating inside both front and back covers grab attention right away filling in any gaps in boxing memories of folk - interested in sports or not.

From the impressive photograph of a handsome beaming Ali opposite the list of seven chapters ("The Boy From Louisville," "I am The Greatest!," "Taking a Stand," "The Years in the Wilderness," "The Fights of a Century," "We All Grow Old" and "Icon and Legend") to the last charming photograph of a nattily-mustachioed Muhammad Ali, this at times humorous, captivating epic story of the Black African hero of millions the world over, puts us squarely and forever in the literary debt of social scientist Dave Zirin.

How does one spell "G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L?" (Page 114 photo just blew me away!)

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