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Clay vs Liston: how a new horizon was opened

Fifty years ago, Cassius Clay “shook up the world” by winning the heavyweight title – and embracing the Nation of Islam On the night of February 25, 1964, the 22 year old Cassius Clay defeated the supposedly undefeatable Sonny Liston to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. It was an upset of historic proportions… Read more

Olympic icons

Contending for the Living Red Pepper, June-July 2012 In a world where the words ‘iconic’ and ‘icon’ have been cheapened by gross overuse, it’s salutary to recall their original meanings. In a religious context, an icon is a representation that is more than a representation, an image that contains a power beyond itself. It’s not… Read more

Icon of the dissidents

America’s attempt to use Muhammad Ali to sell its policies to Muslim countries will not work The Guardian, 4 February 2002 When Hollywood bosses were asked by the Bush administration to do their bit in the “war on terrorism”, they readily signed up for the new crusade. In particular, they promised to “stress efforts to… Read more

Ali’s contested legacy

BBC History Magazine, December 2001 Asked if ‘Ali’, the soon-to-be released Hollywood epic starring Will Smith, would be ‘controversial’, screenwriter Eric Roth responded, “Are you kidding? It’s about Muhammad Ali. Do you really think all the things he stood for don’t matter anymore? His name is still a lightning rod in American society.” Roth has… Read more

Redemption Song: review by Kofi Natambu

By Kofi Natambu, Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine, 20 March 2000 This is an extraordinary book. It is especially astonishing because just when I began to despair that any one text could possibly do justice to accurately documenting and analyzing the often badly misunderstood and largely misrepresented complexity of either Muhammad Ali, the African American civil… Read more

In the fight for black freedom

Review of Redemption Song by Nirmal Shekar, Frontline, August 1999 AS we approach the end of an eventful century – one that has, in many ways, transformed our basic presumptions about life and living – in every sphere of human activity there is bound to be a critical review of the last 100 years and… Read more

Another View of Ali – ‘Redemption Song’ Reviewed

By Playthell Benjamin, The Black World Today, 1999 It was hard to imagine that I could learn anything new about Muhammad Ali. After all, we are the same age and I have been an avid fan since he burst upon the sports scene like a breath of fresh air in the early sixties. In fact,… Read more