Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) has always engendered an emotional reaction from the public. From his appearance as an Olympic champion to his iconic status as a national hero, his carefully constructed image and controversial persona have always been intensely scrutinized. In Muhammad Ali, Michael Ezra considers the boxer who calls himself "The Greatest" from a new perspective. He writes about Ali's pre-championship bouts, the management of his career and his current legacy, exploring the promotional aspects of Ali and how they were wrapped up in political, economic, and cultural "ownership."
Ezra's incisive study examines the relationships between Ali's cultural appeal and its commercial manifestations. Citing examples of the boxer's relationship to the Vietnam War and the Nation of Islam-which serve as barometers of his "public moral authority"-Muhammad Ali analyzes the difficulties of creating and maintaining these cultural images, as well as the impact these themes have on Ali's meaning to the public.
Michael Ezra is Chair of the American Multicultural Studies Department at Sonoma State University.
Acknowledgements Introduction: Why Another Book about Muhammad Ali? Part I: Louisville Sponsoring Group Louisville's Favorite Son: The Professional Debut Choosing Management: The Courtship of Cassius Clay The Early Bouts, 1961-1962 Clay vs. Moore: The Seminal Text The Most Hated Man in Boxing? The Early Bouts, 1963 Damage Control through Moral Authority: The Louisville Sponsoring Group's Specialty The Relationship between Cassius Clay and the Louisville Sponsoring Group: A Summary The Commercial Elements of Clay-Liston I PartII: Nation of Islam Main Bout Inc.: How Commerce Affects Culture Carving Out Moral Authority: Ali's Race Man Phase Part III: Good People Forty Years of Ali: The Making of an Icon The Legacy of Ali's Exile and the Nation of Islam The Prodigal Son Returns King of the World: The Consequences of Monarchy Death of a Salesman Lonnie Ali: The Savior Thomas Hauser: The Literary Rehabilitation of Ali's Legend Olympic Torch: From Literature to Television Beyond Moral Authority: The Apotheosis of Muhammad Ali Culture Meets Commerce: The Muhammad Ali Center, Naming Rights, and the Price of Moral Authority The Backlash: Exploring Contradictory Meaning of Ali Notes Index