Ali’s Biography by Jonathan Eig

“Clay and the Beatles not only possessed real talent; they also represented something new. They were rebel- clowns, a compelling hybrid with the potential for danger and profit.” (p.136)

“But Malcolm insisted he wasn’t interested in Clay as a boxer. I’m interested in him as a human being. Malcolm tapped his head as he spoke. Not many people know the quality of the mind he’s got in there. He fools them… He is sensitive, very humble, yet shrewed- with as much untapped mental energy as he has physical power. ” (p.137)

“Back in Kentucky, more than ten thousand people crowded Louisville’s Freedom hall to watch the broadcast on closed-circuit TV. Around the country, about 700,000 fans paid to watch the broadcast in movie theaters, the biggest closed- circuit audience ever assembled for a fight. Fans paid an average price of $6.42 per ticket, bringing the total revenue to $4.5 million. In 1964, by way of comparison, television rights for all twenty Major League Baseball teams cost $13.6 million. In other words, the broadcast of a single boxing match generated about a third as much revenue as a whole season of baseball.” (p.145)

“Clay v. Liston would be seen and heard by one of the largest audiences ever gathered for a single event, a sign of a new era for television and sports and an unparalleled opportunity for a young man starved for fame.” (p.145)

“Clay, for his part, had fought sightlessly against the so-called toughest man on the planet for the better part of a round. Now Clay had taken thirty-seven punches in one round and lived to tell about it. He hadn’t quit. He hadn’t gone down. For Sonny Liston, that might have hurt more than any punch Clay had thus far landed.” (p.149)

“With that, he rejected the old promise that black people would get a fair chance if they played by the rules, worked hard, and showered proper respect for the white establishment. -but he had seen enough to understand the liberating power of self-determination.” (p.154)

“Malcolm not only enjoyed Clay’s company but also, increasingly, had come to believe that the boxer had an opportunity to shake up black-white relations and rally more young black men and women to join a popular uprising more aggressive than the one led by Martin Luther King Jr. And here comes Cassius, the exact contrast of everything that was representative of the Negro image.” (p.155)

“Clay had just become one of the most famous black men on the planet- possibly the most famous. He was clean-living, youthful, and handsome- a symbol of strength with a rebelious streak as wide as an interstate highway.” (p.156)

“This Clay name has no divine meaning, Elijah Muhammad said. Muhammad Ali is what I will give to him as long as he believes in Allah and follows me.” (p.158)

“Ferdie Pacheco, the doctor who worked in the corner for many of Dundee’s fighters, described Muhammad Ali as an overgrown child driven fundamentally be a desire to be contrarian.” (p.160)

‘It was not hard to see why a white man of Cannon’s generation might think Ali’s behavior worse than Schmeling’s. Black men in 1964 seemed to be taking over everything, from basketball to boxing to the streets of American’s cities. There had never been such a overtly political athlete in America, and certainly not a black one. What white America demands in her black champions, the Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver said a few years later, is a brilliant, powerful body, and a dull-bestial mind- a tiger in the ring and a pussycat outside the ring. With one mighty roar, Muhammad Ali annouced the old rule no longer applied.” (p.160)

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