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Thread: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

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    BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    The Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali. By Thomas Hauser. Sport Classic Books, 2005
    Reviewed by Brett Conway FROM MAX BOXING

    In the spring of 1976, having just won a close decision over Jimmy Young, the aging heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, appeared on the PBS show Face the Nation. In this interview, Ali spoke of his charities, of his management team, of his businesses, and of his dreams for himself and blacks in America and the world. He spoke about making a certain amount of money and expressed plans to use it to fight social injustice. This Ali, interviewed by respected journalists and being watched by a crowd who may often forego prizefights, was not the Ali of the 1960s, defying the established order; instead he was asserting a wish to become an establishment of his own.

    Ali, the establishment, is the focus of Thomas Hauser’s book The Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali. This book, published as a “companion volume” to his biography Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, argues that Ali’s persona is not just a face we see on television commercials and not just a guy selling the rights to his name for $50 million as he has recently done – rather he has endured a “deliberate distortion” that has twisted what Hauser refers to as “the legacy”, the one borne out of Ali’s fighting the American establishment when as a young Muslim he refused to go to Vietnam in the 1960s.

    A small book compared to the girth of the biography of 1990, it contains over twenty black and white photographs and five sections of essays – reasons for the book, essays from previous publications, personal memories of the author’s time with Ali, a lengthy section of quotations from others about Ali’s legacy, and the final essay, “the Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali,” the heart of the book. This book, like Hauser’s other boxing writings, contains much analysis and information. Hauser focuses on Ali’s influence not just out of the ring but also in it, as well as the sporting world beyond the ring. He reminds us that Ali defended the title ten times in thirty-seven months against mostly top-notch competition, quotes a 1965 New York Herald Tribune editorial saying although Ali is the new champion, he – a Muslim -- is a disgrace, and that Joe Namath was making the unheard of sum of $427 000 over ten years only a few years before Ali and Frazier earned two-and-a-half million each for just over an hours work, and the dark side of Ali’s early involvement in Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Some essays well worth reading are Hauser’s corrective to Mark Kram’s mean-spirited Ghosts of Manilla and “Muhammad Ali and Congress Remembered” -- a reminder of how controversial Ali was in the 1960s through a liberal dose of quotations from some not so liberal congressmen of the time – all of whom called Ali, Clay.

    These essays are meant to show that Ali was not always the corporate name we recognize today; he was an American rebel having the perch of the heavyweight championship from which to preach about social injustice, the Nation of Islam, and the evils of racism. It seems Hauser has opened a discussion about Ali worth having. As Ali has become more and more beloved by around the world, appearing in television commercials from America to South Korea and keeping a reputation alive not as a boxer but as a humanitarian, many have forgotten how vilified he was in the 1960s. Ali, for his part, has not done much to change this ignorance. He has become leery to speak out against injustice for fear of hurting his stock portfolio. He has become part of the establishment.

    But how much was Ali ever willing to speak out for others? During his boxing career, the biggest risk Ali took that did not involve receiving punches was his stand against Vietnam. This stance took away the easy time he would surely have had there, working to increase morale rather than the body count, much as Joe Louis did in World War II. But we must remember the risk Ali took by not going to Vietnam had as much – and probably more -- to do with self-interest than with protecting others from the grip of conscription. Thus, when we hear that Ali is being distorted, we have to ask who is doing the distorting? Is it Ali, his handlers, or us? We also have to ask was this “rebel” Ali the “true” Ali or the Ali we all wanted him to be? We wish to see the Ali that stood up to the government reaching out to pull others to the quagmire of Vietnam. But this is never what Ali was. Rather, Ali is a human on the public stage onto whom we can project our wishes and dreams and aspirations and whom we have turned into some kind of idea or ideal. As he used to say, “we only see what our eyes allow us to see.” Granted, we can look to Ali as a paradigm but also realize that as this book argues, there is a lost legacy of Ali, a legacy maybe some of us hoped for – that he would give up all for social justice – but that never existed in the first place. When ascribing a legacy to an enigma like Ali, we must be cautious, and remember this boxer, like all human beings, does have feet of clay.

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    How many books & articles can Hauser possibly write on Ali? He's made Muhammad his personal cottage industry.

    GorDoom

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    I couldn't agree with you more. My first reaction upon seeing the title of this thread was, "Oh great, another book on Ali, just what we need." Besides the one's he's written about Ali there must be a hundred or more others already written about him. There are so many other worthy boxers that nobody has written biographies about, it's just a shame.

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    Then again, if I'm able to get my recently completed manuscript on Sam Langford published, maybe I can follow it up with a whole series of Langford books:

    * Sam Langford, the Early Years
    * Sam Langford's English Experience
    * Sam Langford Australian Experience
    * The Fights of Sam Langford
    * Sam Langford's Mexican Heavyweight Championship Journey
    * Sam Langford in Retirement
    * Sam Langford's Vaudeville Career
    * Sam Langford Anecdotes
    * Newspaper Reports of Sam Langford Fights
    * Sam Langford Pictorial
    etc., etc.

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    Hauser is bright and knows he had another opportunity to get something published. The shame is that Ali is horribly overexposed as far as books go. However, boxing is such a shrinking market I cannot seem many more coming...it's going from a sport to simply a special interest..

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    I almost get the feeling

    That the New books on Ali aren't even aimed at Boxing fans anymore but rather for the general sports public.

    It's like: Ok that book is now in softcover now, time to spit out a "new" Ali book or else the boxing section of the Sports secion in Borders or Barnes & Noble will be shut down".

    The thing is that these Ali books sell. Yes Boxing fans CLEARLY see the over staturation of the man. But these books ARE selling. I have to think that they are being picked up by someone who sees the "new" Ali book and says to himself, "cool, I don't have an ALi book, let me learn something".

    Those who follow the sport like the majority of us here at this site, and thos who have books on Ali, probably own at LEAST 5 books on the man as it is. These new books are only moderately aimed at us. They try to pass it off as something "new" or a new angle or viewpoint. But they really are written, becuase they (and Hauser is clearly the most guilty here) know it WILL sell.

    The Movie by Micheal Mann about Ali has been justifiably panned by boxing fans. Primarily, becuase NONE of it is new or fresh. Mann's movie had Ali NOT been so over pusblished and had so many of his bouts so firmly fresh in out minds, MIGHT have been recieved differently by Fight fans. But there is ABOSOLUTELY nothing new to add here.

    And becuase we are SOOO familiar with his life and fights, the movie was SOOOO easy to nitpick apart. "No that's wrong. That's not how it happened. That doesn't remind me of how it went." It's the same way with the books. Nothing makes you really go "hmmmm".

    But the Movie and the books are turning in profits. So someone is buying the Ali stuff. But for boxing fans, a fresh subject would be nice.

    Hawk

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    I'd venture to say that the only modern American that has had more books & articles written about him than Ali; is John Kennedy.

    I'm a big admirer of both but I have to say I'm sick of reading about them. I haven't gleaned a new fact on either in decades.

    GorDoom

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    Gordoom

    Did you read Gerald Posner's book Case Closed?

    I thought that was a Fantastic book that dealt with the assassination.

    I was looking forward to Vincent Bugliosi's book on the same subject, but that one has been teasing us about coming out for what, 6 years now?

    Hawk

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    May 2007 Hawk. I believe they've condensed it to 1000 pges or so.

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    May 2007? Sigh.

    ""Almost all of the current books on the subject deal with conspiracy theories. I believe there was no conspiracy, and I think I can convince the average reader in 25 pages that Oswald killed JFK." -- Vincent T. Bugliosi; April 22, 2004"

    Yet he's immersed in a book that is over 1000 pages? Wha hoppen to 25?

    I like to live by the "Have and NOT Need" vs. the "Need and NOT Have" credo. But Vince, this is flipping ridiculous!

    Hawk

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    I have heard that Mark Fuhrman has also written a book about
    the assassination of JFK.

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    Now there's a guy (Furman) with all the credibility in the world!

    I say, enough Kennedy, enough Ali ... Let's move on. Are these writers so bereft of imagination that they really believe the world is waiting with bated breath for yet ANOTHER book about those two?

    GorDoom

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    Maybe . . . maybe Ali . . . KILLED Kennedy? There's a new franchaise for you! PeteLeo.

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    LOL! Good one, Pete!

    GorDoom

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    need to spread the wealth around to other fighters- the ali industry- is simial tothe jfk conspiracy;its flat out ridiculous.

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    When I approach the sports section in my favorite used books store, I automatically skip over the invariable first ten boxing books, all about Ali. How much more can be written about the man? As for Hauser, while one can appreciate the desire to recycle, enough is enough already. And admiration afforded deservedly to Ali is different then the worship and near deification given him by Hauser and others.

    As for Kennedy, my favorite suspect is Joe Dimaggio. A far fetched suspect some might say, but a good parralel would be any Aplhabet Organization's top ten list - pick a far feteched subject and make him a mandatory challenger...

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    Re: BOOK REVIEW: THE LOST LEGACY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by THOMAS HAUSER

    I tried a Google search some time ago but could never find what I wanted. Does anyone know what Jackie, Caroline, John Jr., and/or Ted Kennedy think about JFK's assassination? If they believed Oswald acted alone, then I think "case closed." Because they, above all else, would want to know the truth and may have access to stuff most people don't. But if any one of them thought there was a consipracy of sorts, then that's a different ball game altogether.

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