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Ali: A Life By Jonathan Eig

Release date: 04th October, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £25.00
Our Price: £16.79
You Save: £8.21 (32%)
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You could fill a library with Muhammed Ali biographies, photographic collections, tittle-tattle, statistical tomes and hastily-prepared cut-and-paste ‘appreciations’, which may prompt the would-be reader of Ali: A Life to ask, ‘is it worth spending £16.79 on yet another book which focuses on the great man’s life?’

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Jonathan Eig, who conducted more than 500 interviews prior to, and following Ali’s death during the course of his research, has produced an enormous (640 pages), exceptionally well-researched piece of work that doesn’t shirk from revealing Ali’s darker side.

Most of us know the basics of Ali’s remarkable life: from Olympic gold medallist to the vastly under-rated ‘Louisville Lip’ and onto the world heavyweight championship. His refusal to serve in Vietnam resulted in him losing his boxing licence, but he would return to recapture the world crown before suffering from the early onset of brain damage. By 1981, aged 39, as he prepared for his final fight, Ali was already in serious decline, his speed – of foot and thought – had deserted him.

Eig is brilliant at peppering his text with anecdotes which reveal Ali’s innate sense of fun. Despite being the world’s most famous man, he remained approachable and always prepared to engage in pranks capable of yielding laughter. But the author also reveals the extent of Ali’s preparedness to cheat on his wives, particularly Belinda, to whom he was married for nine years from 1967.

The degree to which Ali’s brain damage affected both his boxing and his life outside the ring is also treated to a comprehensive statistical examination which measure his reflexes and speed, considered essential characteristics of a solid boxing defence, and the extent to which they both slowed dramatically. As early as 1970, when he was just 28, Ali’s brain was already deteriorating.

Until now, it was widely held that Thomas Hauser had written the definitive Ali biography, but Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life is equally impressive.


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