A boxing legend but a towering American cultural figure, Muhammad Ali lived a life beyond adjectives, indeed beyond superlatives, and that’s just what he set out to do. Tributes to the Greatest have filled the Internet since we heard word of Ali’s death over the weekend. He was multitudes. In addition to Ali the boxer, there are Ali the Black Muslim, Ali the cultural icon, Ali the anti-war protestor, Ali the telecelebrity, Ali the civil rights figure, and more. And it is these various incarnations—Ali as a window onto his time, our time—that build upon each other in this book to give us a vivid portrait of one of the greatest protagonists in the ring of public history.
As the first book by scholars on the significance of his life and times, Muhammad Ali, the People’s Champ is a fresh reassessment of the place of a giant sports idol and the role he has played in American history. Ali both shaped and reflected the times in which he lived. He touched the lives of people in a way unprecedented by almost any sports figure before or since. The contributors conclude that we can have no full understanding of our era without him.