5 Of The Best Pieces Of Writing About Muhammad Ali To Read Today

5 Of The Best Pieces Of Writing About Muhammad Ali To Read Today

The fiercest sporting flame that ever burned was finally extinguished last night, as Muhammad Ali completed the final stage of passing into myth at the age of 74. 2016 has dedicated itself to coldly plucking icons of the twentieth century from among us, so in a way, it was perversely logical that it would rob us of Ali's presence.

Ali's life was sufficiently extraordinary to be chronicled in great depth, so, if you have time this morning to dedicate to exploring the depths of Ali's character, here are five of the best pieces of writing about Muhammad Ali you can read today.

Robert Lipsyte - The New York Times

If you are unfamiliar with the history of Ali's life, this New York Times obituary by Robert Lipsyte is comprehensive.

Read: Muhammad Ali, Titan Of Boxing And The 20th Century, Dies At 74

David Remnick - The New Yorker

Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker and  has written perhaps the greatest book about Ali in existence, King of the World. The book covers the early part of Ali's career, from his growing up in racist Kentucky to his conversion to Islam and suspension from boxing in the late 1960s. Despite not covering his entire career, Remnick's book is as nuanced an exploration of Ali's true character as exists. Remnick also has an extensive piece on The New Yorker website today, which is worth reading solely for the details of how a New York audience learned of Ali's passing last night.


Read: The Outsized Life of Muhammad Ali 

Hugh McIlvanney - The Guardian

The doyen of British sportswriting retired in March, so The Guardian sifted through the vault and republished some of McIlvanney's finest pieces. This may be the finest of them all. After the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974, McIlvanney was granted a two-hour audience with the great man. Despite the unprecedented turbulence of the late 1960s, McIlvanney met an Ali who was fighting the dying of the light with the alacrity and force that met Sonny Liston the decade previous. McIlvanney found a truth in that meeting also, saying that perhaps Ali should quit while he's ahead. Ali of course, would not. McIlvanney knew this also: it would have gone against Ali's better nature.

Read: Hugh McIlvanney Meets Muhammad Ali Hours After The Rumble In The Jungle

Dave Hannigan - The Irish Times

A certain bronzed, thin-skinned proto-fascist is currently campaigning to be president of the United States, promising to 'Make America Great Again'. Comedian Jon Stewart was recently discussing Trump at the University of Chicago, and ultimately asked when exactly America was great. One of the multitudinous issues with Trump is his wilful ignorance of nuance or intricacies; he refuses to see the world as anything but a binary tension between Americans and immigrants. This is at best nonsensical and at worst pernicious.


Ali was great because he recognised exactly the intricacies and paradoxes of American life, defying them and, at times, practising them. On the Irish Times website today, Dave Hannigan accentuates just how Ali was hewn of the nation which produced, brutalised, denounced and ultimately celebrated him.

Read: Muhammad Ali - The Greatest In And Out Of The Ring

Mark Kram - Sports Illustrated

The Thrilla in Manilla is one of the greatest sporting events of all time, and on their 60th birthday in 2014, Sports Illustrated republished Mark Kram's lyrical account of it.An overwhelming event, that Kram's prose does justice to.

Read: SI 60: Lawdy, Lawdy, He's Great

See Also: Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Passes Away Aged 74

See Also: Watch: When Muhammad Ali Fought In Dublin

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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