Muhammad Ali, the greatest athlete of the 20th century, was to writers of his time what the Madonna and Child were to painters of the Renaissance. Everyone took a crack at Ali. Here at The Stacks, we’re been honored to curate Ali stories that previously weren’t available online. Our collection makes up but a small sampling of the trove of great writing about Ali, but it’s enough for you to appreciate why Ali was a reporter’s dream.
The brash young boxer, who celebrated his 22d birthday last week, may not be a card-carrying Muslim. But, unquestionably, he sympathizes with Muslim aims and, by his presence at their meetings, lends them prestige. He is the first nationally famous Negro to take an active part in the Muslim movement. Yet he still has not formally announced support for the Muslims.
He will not discuss the subject publicly. He will talk about his punches and his speed and his good looks, but he will not talk about the movement.
Clay has a secretary who carefully screens all his calls. Clay is not the only fighter in the world with a secretary. But he may be the only fighter in the world whose secretary’s last name is, simply, “X.” The secretary has a real name, too, but, as one of his friends says, “He went to Muslim school. He earned his X.”