26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 1999
Muhammad Ali has always played a large part in my life. He showed me that being black did not make me inferior at a time when almost everything and everyone said the opposite. This book gave me a fresh perspective on his achievements and his beliefs, thanks to contributions from sources as diverse as Joe Frazier and Cheryl Tiegs. The stories are wide-ranging and informative. Some were laugh out loud funny (very embarrassing when you're on a train). Some were depressing (stories surrounding Ali's entourage and the Holmes fight almost made me cry). There are even some from people who don't like Ali or see him as someone worthy of praise. All of them gave me a deeper, more rounded insight into a man that I viewed with awe and reverence. I started the book seeing Ali as some kind of distant super hero and ended it seeing him as a warm, caring human being with the same flaws and insecurities as anyone else. Along the way I laughed a lot and learned even more. The book is funny, engaging, and inspirational...just like the man himself.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2003
MUHAMMAD ALI: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, through accounts of noteworthy admirers and close-associates, chronicles the life and times of a living legend. Long-time pugilistic journalist and award-winining author Thomas Hauser has painstakingly compiled a wealth of information to support what seems to be his thesis: that no matter how amazing Muhammad Ali was in the ring, his worth as a boxing champion is far exceeded by his worth as a citizen of this world. In 500 pages of text, we are able to follow Ali in his growth from a brash, boisterous heavyweight contender to a highly devoted man of God who brings happiness wherever he tarries. For fight fans, all of the classic bouts from Liston I to Manilla are covered; anecdotes to be especially savored are those leading up to the first Liston fight, where Ali was arguably out of his mind in the extent to which he went in taunting his opponent, as well as the unadvised beating Ali suffered at the hands of Larry Holmes in the twilight of his career. Most interesting were the sections of the book that dealt with Ali's relationship with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam at the beginning of his first reign as heavyweightchampion and his conscientiously objecting to fighting in Vietnam. It is obvious that Hauser is captivated by his subject and looks upon Ali with great reverence. At times this can lead to the feeling that the author went to great lengths selecting interviews which sanitize and exagerate the legacy of Ali. Still, so many different people can't be distorting the truth; it is undeniable that Ali has a heart of gold and it brought a smile to my face everytime I read about him performing magic tricks for children, or meeting with fans, no matter what, to show his appreciation for their humanity. It is tragic and anger-provoking that Ali was taken advantage of by so many people that he loved and provided for, but it is a blessing that his spirit exists in this bio for future generations to learn of.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2014
The book did provide me information that I did not know about Ali. But the book was mostly a series of direct quotes from persons involved with Ali with limited narration by the author to tie the quotations together. It made for a long, slow read because many of the quotes had information that I found not relevant or were repititve information. I expect a biographer to sort out the duplicative material and provide a much better flow. Further it should be noted that the book was written 20+ years ago and was somewhat dated. There was about a page of postscript from the author regarding the time lapse but no update on Ali's current situation or status.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2008
I first really watched an Ali fight as a boy. Ali was fighting his second comeback fight against the Argentine brawler Oscar Bonavena. It was a gruelling 15 round fight. It was on ABC, and Howard Cosell made it sound much more dramatic than it actually was. It was competitive, but Ali was winning the fight when he dug deep, and dropped Bonavena three times in the final round for an automatic stoppage. This was not a feat to be taken lightly. Bonavena had fought Joe Frazier twice, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, and a host of others without being taken off his feet.
In any case, over the years, I had read so much about Ali, that when a friend passed this book to me, I was unexcited at the prospect of reading another Ali chronicle.
I was unexpectedly delighted at Hauser's coverage of this legend. He brings out what a transcendant figure Ali was (and remains).
He uses the same technique that made Terry Pluto's LOOSE BALLS a classic sports story, in that he lets people from Ali's past do the talking. Former opponents, wives, associates, friends, trainers all take their turns. Many are insightful.
Hauser is not beyond showing us Ali's warts. We see him as an unfaithful husband, as a cruel tormentor at times, as a foolhardy spendthrift (chump), and for once, as a confused and angry young man, as he transitions into his Muslim persona.
But he evolves as an incredibly special human being. As his skills begin to erode in the ring, his humane qualities flourish. He becomes a man of deep, contented faith. He performs acts for ordinary people that show him to be a worthy idol.
As his career ends, he confronts his diminishing health and vitality by once again looking to his faith. He meets his fourth wife, and finds peace with himself.
Some of what is in this book is hilarious. Ali in many ways is a true original. He is a first rate character, and leaves his ring opponents and his associates often shaking their heads. George Foreman tells a truly funny story about him, and later speaks in great reverence about Ali's greatness, and what an honor it was to share a ring with him.
One thing the book points out is in the 1960's and 1970's, many of the fighters were thoughtful, intelligent and articulate men. Not so much anymore.
The one disappointing item for me, was that the story ends in 1988. Ali's story has continued.
Hauser is a worthy chronicler of this seminal icon. He has done a profound service for any fan, or any curious person who would like to know about one of last century's most famous and influential people.
This is one of the greatest sports biographies I have ever read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
from the first time i got the book and read it i was so happy.this man was a genius in the ring and a human force outside of it.this book showcases all the many sides of the greatest.very compelling and full of insight.it showcases the myths&mystic of the man.one of the greatest bios that i've ever read.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 1999
If you are a Muhammad Ali fan then you definitely need to have this book.It gives details of his life and career. These details are not only told by him but by other people who he had an influence on. You get a chance to hear from his opponents and also his entourage. This is a good buy.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2005
Thomas Hauser's definitive work on Ali uses a somewhat unconventional style in that he culls quotations from different interviews ranging from Ali's cook to Joe Frazier to paint quite a unique portrait of Ali unlike any other book.
Though much research has been done through interviews of people each of which provide a unique perspective on Ali, it could have helped if Hauser could have interviewed more of Ali's detractors to provide a more well-rounded picture of the icon. The last part of the book pulls out all the stops and proceeds to venerate Ali to the detriment of painting a multi-dimensional picture of the 20th century's greatest athlete.
An educational read but could have used a more unbiased treatment.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2001
For those who want to know about the real Ali, I recommend "The Tao Of Muhammad Ali" by Davis Miller, which offers far more about the person rather than dates and figures. I enjoyed "Muhammad Ali: His Life And Times", it had a lot of things in it I didn't know, but if you want to read just one great book about Ali, then make it "The Tao Of Muhammad Ali".
on April 1, 2015
To the millions of retirees Mohamed Ali (Cassias Clay) belongs to the 60"s and 70"s of the past century. That was when he used to dominate the boxing world and when his fights used to be anxiously awaited by admirers around the entire world.Those were the days when he terrorised his opponents and intimidated them with threats and demeaning poems. He was not just tough; he was merciless! In fact, he literally drove some of his toughest challengers to tears!
But to say this is to omit the other half of a great story. Mohamed Ali these days is a totally different man. The times when he humiliated his challengers with his swift knockouts inflicting heavy damage are gone, but not necessarily missed. Paradoxically, Mohamed himself was neither hateful nor vindictive as demonstrated by his generous and kind acts towards all people, specially as he grew older. To him boxing was a technical and strategic challenge and not a way to hurt his foes. That is why he almost never said a bad word about his opponent after a fight but instead he evaluated his performance on a strictly technical basis.
To understand Mohamed Ali we need to realise that his life consisted of two distinct phases. The first phase was purely devoted to his athletic performance in which he was considered the greatest heavy-weight boxer in the world . Those were the years of glory for which he became known from Asia to America. Interestingly, however, the second phase was dominated by spiritual devotion. That is when Mohamed converted to Islam and became emotionally and intellectually a devout Muslim. This once-devastating boxer now kneels down and prays to God (Allah) five times every day. He hates no body and wants to help every body. He now regrets some of the cruel things he had done to his foes. He wants to fight hunger and bring peace to society. Thousands seek his autograph every month and with every autograph he passes a leaflet preaching Islam. He married four times and stipulated that every wife should practice Islamic traditions.
Although Mohamed Ali has now slowed down and apparently has a light form of parkinsonism he is at peace with himself. He believes it is Allah's will, and Allah does things for a purpose.
Credit should be given to the author for his unique handling of this biography. He tells the Mohamed Ali story through all the people who knew him - his family, his friends, his agents and even his foes. They all come forth to tell their point of view in an interesting and candid manner. With this style one could hardly accuse the author of bias.
on January 29, 2011
Written with Ali's cooperation and with extensive interviews with figures associated with his life `Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times' makes for an in-depth and engrossing read. Each chapter is made up of many brief comments and stories as related by the people interviewed and Hauser links them all with connecting passages that clarifies certain points and guides the narrative. I was a little worried that the flow would be stilted and slow as a result, but if anything this book was the complete opposite and I flew through it in no time at all. It is exceptionally easy to read. This looks at most aspects of Ali's life and on the whole is complimentary, although it doesn't shy away from looking at all aspects of his character, good or bad. The sections looking at his early career and involvement in the civil rights movement was particularly fascinating and the descriptions of his various fights was exciting to read. It was also sad to read of Ali's exploitation by 'friends' and business associates during his career which I wasn't aware of before I started this book. There are three photo sections in this book with add to the overall package and show Ali in more quiet and tender moments with his family. Ali allows his medical records to be used for this book, as well as giving access to himself and members of his family and it is interesting to see what his daughter thought when seeing her father fight in the ring. You may not agree with all of Ali's beliefs or ideas, but you can't fault his integrity to them. If you have even a passing interest in boxing or Ali then this book comes highly recommended and it makes for an informative read about an intriguing and inspirational man.
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