The Champ!

The Champ!

The Story of Muhammad Ali

Book - 2004
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Muhammad Ali is one of the world's best-known figures, and this incredible biography delves into precisely why. From his unlikely beginnings as a skinny, young Cassius Clay learning to box at a local gym to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world at the famous "Rumble in the Jungle," where even the skies let loose with rain right after his victory, Ali has captivated the world. Tonya Bolden's careful research and elegant telling, paired with R. Gregory Christie's incredible paintings, make this a book that will inform and inspire readers of all ages.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375824012
Branch Call Number: JB ALI OVERSIZE
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) :,color illustrations ;,31 cm
Additional Contributors: Christie, R. Gregory 1971-


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Nov 18, 2010

This an impressively thorough but concise summary of the life and accomplishments of one of the most fascinating and enduringly popular culture figures of the 20th Century. Mohammad Ali was as agile with words and ideas as he was in the boxing ring and this book's textual and visual language is an homage to his dynamism and charisma.

The text is written in rhythmic, punchy language the communicates the lyricism and energy of Ali's public persona. It balances that articulate bravado with information about Ali's determination and deeply-felt commitment to social justice and humanitarian causes.

While the book does have quite a bit of (very accessible) text, that text is framed within full page illustrations. The illustrations are action-packed mixed media compositions in vivid, rich primary colour. Sometimes the frenetic composition doesn't quite cohere but, generally, it succeeds and is a good compliment to the emphatic poetry of the writing.

I think that an early reader who is drawn to biography and non-fiction would be motivated to rise to the challenge of the text by the engaging illustrations and find the musicality of the text rewarding.

My favourite Muhammad Ali quotes:

"If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you."
- Muhammad Ali

"I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on."
- Muhammad Ali


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