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70 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE TRUTH AT LAST
Cassius Clay (AKA Cassius X, Muhammad X, Muhammad Ali)was born into a thoroughly middle-class family: his father always had a job; his mother was always there for him; he had more in the way of creature comforts and accessories than most black and white kids did during his youth. Still, he chose to turn his back on America,joined a racist cult (the black Muslims who...
Published on February 25, 2006 by Matthew M. Oconnell

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle problems
The book is great. The words are great. The translation to the Kindle format are teh suck.

I believe in the double space at the end of a sentence. That makes me a minority member now. But it would have avoided a lot of infelicities in the text. These problems made it difficult to follow the narrative. When one finds something on the order of

"and...
Published on April 29, 2011 by James A. Collins


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70 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE TRUTH AT LAST, February 25, 2006
This review is from: Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream (Hardcover)
Cassius Clay (AKA Cassius X, Muhammad X, Muhammad Ali)was born into a thoroughly middle-class family: his father always had a job; his mother was always there for him; he had more in the way of creature comforts and accessories than most black and white kids did during his youth. Still, he chose to turn his back on America,joined a racist cult (the black Muslims who believed white people were made in a test tube by an evil doctor named Yacub who successfully bred light skinned blacks together until he created a mutant race of blonde-haired, blue-eyed beings), refused to defend his country during the Vietnam War, called for death (by lynching) of all inter-racial couples, cheated on every one of his wives, betrayed old friends and even deserted his patrimony by accepting the name Ali in replacing his father's proud name all the while claiming any white blood he had in him was the result of "raping." Jack Cashill, relying upon primary sources, proves that Clay/Ali lied about most of the things he claimed to believe in; for example, his great grandparents were a white man married to his black grandmother well after slave holding days and his father's people have always proudly claimed Henry Clay as an ancestor. Cashill has written a stunningly provocative work surely to be the definitive work analyzing both Clay and that awful decade of the sixties. If anything, the author is to be faulted for liking his subject a bit too much. Cassius Clay was a nasty piece of work and Muhammid Ali was even worse. Kudos to Cashill,though, for having the temerity to confront the lies and subterfuges of the this false hero who has tried vainly in his last few years to evolve himself beyond what he made himself into.
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50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful Analysis, March 29, 2006
By 
J. Miller (Memphis, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream (Hardcover)
It is very common nowadays to hear Muhammad Ali spoken of not just as a great boxer but as a cultural hero. Yet I always seem to experience some dissonance when I compare the praise he receives with the man I remember watching when he was in his prime. This book explains that dissonance by exploring the conditions that made Muhammad Ali what he was. As it turns out, there is good reason to feel uneasy - not just with Ali, but with the culture that made it possible to see him as more than a sports hero.

As Mr. Cashill says early in the book:

"Today, those who shape our culture -- writers, critics, publishers, broadcasters, movie and TV producers -- routinely calculate the essence of individuals, especially racial minorities, not as the sum of their blessings but rather as the sum of their grievances. In the traditional hero saga, the individual is expected to overcome hardship and injustice. In the grievance narrative, he nurses them like grudges. If they seem inadequate to evoke guilt or anger -- the two desired responses from the audience -- the narrator reserves the right to embellish or even invent additional offenses..." (pp. 3-4)

"Many of Ali's contemporaries wrote or cowrote autobiographies, among them Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, and Larry Holmes. Each of these is a tribute to the American dream. Each author describes the virtues necessary to succeed in America and the opportunity available to those who practice such virtue. Only Ali writes a grievance narrative..." (p. 45)

This book is about a lot more than boxing. It's about the 60's and 70's, race relations, Vietnam, the Nation of Islam, and the changing meaning of the word "hero". It's about the ability of large numbers of people to ignor the underlying complexities of one particular hero who, when seen in the light, doesn't really look that heroic at all.

And it's long overdue.
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63 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploitation, abandonment and eventual grace, January 27, 2006
By 
Kitty Crouch (Plattsburg, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream (Hardcover)
It is illuminating to look back at the career of Ali, its contradictions and its façades. Even those who have no interest in boxing will find this book hard to put down. Parallel themes of radical Islam and the illusions of liberalism coincide, sometimes with devastating results, making this a powerfully timely story.

Ali's dependence on Elijah Muhammed, then on Herbert, his heir, led to heartbreaking denials of Ali's real supporters and of himself. Those who championed these betrayals were willing dupes and pawns. Their attacks on Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, and other true patriots and champions of the game showed a thirst for the triumph of style over substance, a harbinger of years of confused allegiances.

Through it all we can see glimpses of the sweetness which is the hallmark of the true Ali. We also experience the famous bouts in a gripping immediacy that is vivid enough to seem painful. There is much to learn about ourselves, our culture, in this visceral work.
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52 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, A Book That Sets The Record Straight About the Real Ali, July 8, 2006
By 
Eric Paddon (Morristown, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream (Hardcover)
I have always been irritated by those who would rate Muhammad Ali as the greatest of American athletes because it has long been patently obvious that the reason for this elevation has little to do with his undisputed boxing skills (which I would never attempt to denigrate) and everything to do with Ali's status as an icon for the radical Left of American thought. To these people who have manufactured the Ali myth, it is only because Ali championed the same dishonorable perspectives of late 1960s radicalism that he becomes in later years this sacred cow untouchable when it comes to looking back at his life.

Enter this much needed book by Jack Cashill that sets the record straight and gets to the blunt truth of what Muhammad Ali really stood for during those days of protest. Cashill forces a blunt re-examination of what kind of movement the black Muslims under Elijah Muhammad (Ali's puppetmaster of this period) were like, and it isn't a pretty picture. Nor is it a pretty picture of Ali's hedonistic lifestyle that makes a mockery of how his stance against Vietnam was just that of a humble Muslim following the tenets of his religion. Nor is it a pretty picture of the cruelty Ali doled out to fellow black boxers like Joe Frazier.

But it is a necessary thing for us to read and realize that Muhammad Ali the man, at least of that period, is not someone who should be lionized as a symbol of American greatness. Muhammad Ali could have saved himself the trauma of three years away from the ring in his prime if he'd only possessed the grace and decency to follow the example of Joe Louis in World War II. Alas, Ali, under the spell of the bigoted hate of the Black Muslim movement and its anti-American founder (Cashill's story of Elijah Muhammad's conduct during World War II reveals why this is an accurate description) chose a dishonorable course, and the reason why he angered many Americans had less to do with supposed racism in white America and more to do with the obnoxious and hateful radical movement Ali belonged to in that period.

Bravo, Mr. Cashill, for puncturing the hot air myths about Ali the man and setting the record straight.

UPDATE (9/23/06)
-The only thing I need note about "Desert Wanderer's" review to demonstrate how lacking in credibility it is, is to note his strange assertion that Ali boxed in the Phillipines because of the ban against him because of his political stances. He needs to get his chronology straight since the Thrilla in Manilla took place years after Ali was able to start boxing in America again.

UPDATE (12/07/06)
-Four more spam reviews from diehard radical leftists who in typical spam review tradition use platitudes and demonization rather than facts to advance their points of view.

The keepers of the Ali myth have too much a vested interest in the false premise of the purity of 1960s radicalism to ever confront the blunt truth about what kind of sick movement it really was.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Era of AmericAli - Threats, Crime, and more Crime, February 20, 2013
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Unlike Cashill, I was no fan of boxing. But I was a fan of Ali. To appreciate Cashill's critique of Ali, an aside on sports in America may be necessary.

In 1940 the most popular sports in America were horse racing, boxing, baseball, college football, and basketball, possibly in that order. With the advent of widespread television ownership around 1950, and the need to fill schedules with inexpensive programming, wrestling and roller derby won fans. Yet, the impression that wrestling was fixed and derby was for the gals placed them more in the entertainment than the sports category.

The Civil Rights movement and the Left would modify American sports, even boxing. Cashill discusses the Black heavy weight champion of the early decades of the 20th century, Jack Johnson, and his romps with white women and fast living, which caused great relief when Johnson lost his crown to the white Jess Willard in 1915. For over a decade white champs avoided fighting Blacks, in part, to prevent another Johnson scandal. But in the 1930s Joe Louis gained the throne AND the enthusiastic support of much of white America, especially in his bouts with German opponent Max Schmeling and the Italian Primo Carnera. Whether they wanted to or not, each fighter came to symbolize New Deal America, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy. Louis retained his popularity (if not his wealth) into the 1940s and 50s, and he served in the armed services during WWII. Much earlier in the era of WWI college football had been integrated enough for Paul Robeson to be declared an All American athlete; although very few whites and far fewer Blacks attended university in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1940s Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, and major league baseball would be integrated. Even in minor sports, Althea Gibson was shown in the Movietone newsreels as she won major women's tennis matches in the 1950s. American sports, like America itself, was becoming more integrated.

Cashill's neighborhood in Newark was also integrated. Even though his dad was a policeman, this did not prevent him from being robbed as an 11-year-old by two young Blacks. Because his father was a policeman, however, they were able to bend the rules, enter a school, and apprehend the guilty thieves.

Why is Cashill's book important? In a few pages Cashill describes what academics and the media seek to avoid. How often have we seen images in movies and on television of Jews anxious to leave Nazi occupied Europe. They became refugees fleeing as best they could, and if they were lucky, to America. In another area, many Americans can recall images on TV of masses of South Vietnamese seeking to crack into the American embassy in Saigon to be evacuated before the Vietnamese Communists gained total control. Some of those who could not make it to the helicopter evacuation, felt so threatened by the new government that they fled in the waters, becoming the "boat people." Some would be picked up by other ships; some would die in the water.

My point is that refugees are usually shown as sympathetic figures, Jews desperately scrambling out of Hitler's Europe, the boat people, those trying to get away from floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, storms, - all are sympathetically portrayed in the American media. Yet, from the 1950s until today, one feature of American life receives little honest commentary: white flight from central cities.

Not all media portray refugees sympathetically. In the late 1930s Der Stuermer ran a p. 1 article on Jews leaving Germany for Cape Town, South Africa. Even before Hitler won power in Germany, the law did not permit those leaving the country to take out more than a few hundred Reichsmarks. The law was retained, though the economy improved under the Nazis. Indeed, in the 1930s more Germans were leaving depression ridden America to return to the prosperous Third Reich, than going the other way. The Stuermer noted that even though Jews were restricted in the amount of cash they could take to Cape Town, they were taking huge crates of furniture, paintings, and other costly objects. The spin of Julius Streicher's Nazi paper was clear, the parasitic Jews, even in their departure from Germany, were taking the "goods" that Germany had provided them. They were taking the wealth of Germany with them.

America's academics have followed the Streicher approach - at least on one set of refugees. White flight to the suburbs is depicted as 1) affluent whites, following WWII, who bought cars and left the overcrowded cities for the greenery of the burbs, often subsidized by government loans, FHA housing, veterans' benefits, road construction and new infrastructure. The rich whites thus drove away from the squalid cities to the scenic serenity of the suburbs. Worse, the rich suburban whites refuse to pay their "fair share" of support for welfare and schools in the ever poorer cities. White racism is the motivating factor, according to the Left and the academedia complex. They view the move by whites as Striecher viewed the move by Jews.

In addition, 2) there were poorer, more vicious, openly racist whites left in the cities. When a few Blacks moved into their neighborhoods, these violent whites first sought to intimidate their courageous new neighbors. When that failed, these whites fled rather than live beside the Blacks. White racism was again the cause of this white flight. Whites take their wealth with them, abandoning the inner cities to impoverished Blacks. This is the view of white flight as seen by the academedia complex. White racists fled the cities, leaving the metropolises empty of supermarkets, devoid of department stores and pleasant shopping, lacking decent schools, or even doctors. A few alcohol shops, rehab agencies, and check cashing counters could not fill the empty factories. By contrast, the burbs blossomed with magnificent shopping malls, high-ranking schools, new hospitals, even modern factories. White racism has made the cities squalid.

Cashill's is one of the few books I know that challenges the liberal spin of this most important development in America during the past five decades - perhaps not as significant as the change in immigration policy, illegal immigration, and abortion, but it is certainly a major change in America's topography over these decades.
My point, as illustrated by Cashill's personal history, is that whites were often forced from their old neighborhood - with insults, threats, and violence. And like Jews in Nazi Germany, whites could no longer depend on authorities to defend their rights. Big cities were dominated by liberal Democrats or "reform liberal Republicans" like New York City's John Lindsay. Such Republicans were even more hostile to poor whites than the Democrats. By the late 1960s liberals would go to any extent to excuse Black criminal behavior, and find some rationale to blame it on the whites - especially working class whites. Cashill notes the hatred of poor whites in another area - culture. Although its ratings were good, the network cancelled the Friday night boxing contests, because it had the wrong kind of audience - the poor and lower-classes.

Cashill is a conservative, the son of a white Newark policeman. Bettina Aptheker was a red-diaper baby, daughter of two prominent member of the Communist Party, USA. Yet, there came a point where Black crime in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant threatened the lives of Bettina's parents, and the Apthekers became Jewish refugees fleeing liberal Democratic Brooklyn (the Congressional district of Shirley Chisholm) to travel to California - as the Oakies and Arkies had done 40 years prior. But while Steinbeck presented the Joad family refugees with enormous sympathy, the whites who flee big-city Blacks and the liberal political machines are shown as racists removing their wealth from the city to the rich burbs. They are seen as Streicher saw the owners of huge crates loaded for Cape Town.

Unfortunately, lacking in this book is a simple chronology of heavy weight boxing champions and the major bouts described in this book. The chronology should also contain all of Clay/Ali's major fights.

Cashill is good at not being politically correct and discussing the pro-Axis views of leaders of the Nation of Islam prior to and during WWII. Yet, he might have connected those views to the earlier major Black nationalist movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, created by Marcus Garvey, - a movement extremely popular among Blacks in the 1920s. Garvey not only made deals with the newly revived Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, he proclaimed of his UNIA, "We were the first fascists." The NoI continued in the ideological tradition pioneered by Garvey's UNIA.

The weakness of Cashill's interpretation of events is that he attributes much of the growing anti-white racism to Ali. Ali may have contributed to this, but his joining the Muslims was as much an effect as a cause. For example, look at the NoI's Muhammad Speaks 1960-61. There is a back-page story of Malcolm X addressing a student assembly at Howard University. There is a photo of the audience. In the picture one sees exuberant students literally jumping for joy at Malcolm's message, and one student - not identified - is clearly the young Stokely Carmichael. In 1966 during a march for civil rights in Mississippi, Carmichael would originate the slogan "Black Power," which would quickly undermine and overwhelm the civil rights the Civil Rights movement. I was one of the first members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter in New Orleans in 1960. By 1962 the NO CORE chapter had expelled all of its white members - it thus expelled some half its membership!. Black nationalists then seized power of CORE chapters in other cities - Brooklyn and Detroit. The same rejection of integration and civil rights was occurring in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. By 1966 CORE and SNCC were no longer integrated or civil rights organizations. All whites had been purged from these organizations. Black nationalists swept away integration; Black racism prevented discussion (only lecturing at best, insults and treats surfacing more frequently). Crime, rioting, and violence shoved aside non-violence and trampled civil rights. "Snick" provides and interesting transformation - from the "popular front" Southern Negro Youth Congress of the 1940s and 50s, to the Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, to the Students National Coordinating Committee of the Black Nationalists of the late 1960s.

Much of this was occurring before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. Ali is NOT the cause. His conversion to Islam was symbolic of the change already occurring in Black America.

Was Ali cheered by the white Left? You bet. Ali refused to fight in what the Left deemed an unjust war. Cashill's view is simple: boxers like Joe Louis fought for American values; Ali fought for the racism of the Nation of Islam. But Ali also refused to fight in what many Americans, including myself, concluded was an unjust war. In that sense, Ali boxed not only for Black racism, but for international morality.

Could Ali have saved Newark? If he had rejected Black racism and pushed for integration and treating all people equally, could he have changed events in America's big cities? If he had been drafted, if he had carried the American flag, could Cassius Clay have saved Newark? Even as Muhammad Ali, he could not even save boxing! The tectonic plates of American sport were also spinning around: now professional football, basketball, then college football, baseball, hockey, soccer, then perhaps boxing, and further down, horse racing.

The 1960s in America were a time of a cultural revolution. In addition to the growth of the hippie movement, the flower children, the peace people, the women's movement grew in power. To all of these new elements, boxing was just too violent. Yes, they all wanted to cheer, and they would love to cheer on Blacks, but boxing was not the venue in which to do it. Indeed, boxing with its Black champs only reinforced the wrong stereotypes, that Blacks were violent animals. Basketball, by contrast, was graceful, with tall men floating to the hoops. Many of the newer players were Black, and they were good at the game. They were worthy of cheers, not because they were affirmative action quota hires, but because they were good, often the best. More Blacks engaged in college football and universities integrated and expanded, and professional football soon had Blacks as the major group of players. The Left could then cheer Blacks in basketball and football; they could ignore the animalistic sport of boxing.

Black racism is a powerful ingredient in American society, one that cannot be studied in academia, because academics allege that, by definition, it cannot exist. It is hard to get funding to study what the Left and the academedia complex declare to be non-existent. And if you question that definition, you may be expelled from the scholarly community. However, the required blindness on the issue of Black racism will eventually render most sociological studies on racism to be worthless. Muhammad Ali was not the cause, but merely an example of Black racism. In addition, I would contend, he provided a moral example by refusing to participate in an unjust war.

I know too little about boxing to criticize much of Cahill's well written book on that particular topic. I can say his book is a good read. His criticism of the Nation of Islam is valid. His assessment of the Vietnam war is one-sided. His reminiscences of Newark, a challenge to the silence and distortions of the academy. Overall, Cashill has written an excellent book.
For my full review of this book, check my blog.
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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh bold new look at one of sport's greatest icons., February 8, 2006
This review is from: Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream (Hardcover)
What could possibly be new and insightful on literally the most covered sports star ever? Well alot, according to the author.

Cashill asserts that Ali's often overlooked epipheny in later years shed light on the true betrayals of his youth, and how those betrayals impacted society. Ironically, the very portion of society he saught to inspire and elevate. An interesting read for political, cultural and sports interests alike. While not a true sports book, Sucker Punch promises to be one of the most interesting books released this year, and worthy of your attention.

- GiddyupGuy
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle problems, April 29, 2011
The book is great. The words are great. The translation to the Kindle format are teh suck.

I believe in the double space at the end of a sentence. That makes me a minority member now. But it would have avoided a lot of infelicities in the text. These problems made it difficult to follow the narrative. When one finds something on the order of

"and the Mohammad Ali fell to the canvas and his trainer"
Dundee"

one cannot help but find it, um, offputting?

The simple lack of the space detroys the flow of the story.

Sorry, friends, but you're better off getting this on deadtree.

(BTW, I do copyediting) (Cheap)
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the real Ali, July 13, 2012
By 
John Aquilegia (Holmen, Wisconsin) - See all my reviews
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Cashill does a fair job on Cassius Clay-Muhammed Ali. Today Ali is regarded as a sports hero despite a past that would have killed the careers of other athletes. He belonged to a nutty hate group, the Black Muslims, spouted hateful, racist rhetoric, and got away with it. Because his misdeeds were covered up by liberal sportswriters who hated America like Ali did at one time. Imagine a white athlete saying that he opposed interracial marriages and that people who married outside their race should be killed. It is to Ali's credit that he basically renounced his past in his post-boxing life, but the damage was done. If Ali had remained Cassius Clay and backed the civil rights on the side of Martin Luther King, remained pro-American, he would go down as one of America's greatest sports heroes alongside Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Rocky Marciano.
But the problem was, he wasn't very smart. He lied about many of instances of white oppression and a number of his actions...like throwing his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River. He said awful things about many black athletes he fought, like Joe Frazier. And he worsened the racial climate with anti-American and anti-white statements. In the long run, Frazier comes out much the better man.
Cashill is practically the only writer who has brought Ali up on lies and awful treatment of fellow pros. But with a liberal media, celebrities who are anti-American have their shameful pasts covered up. The ironic thing is that today Ali sounds like a patriotic American who regrets many things he said and did in his earlier life. Which just proves that he led around by the nose by the criminals in the Nation of Islam for their own purposes which involved increasing racial acrimony and making themselves wealthier. Sorry, Ali was a great fighter but a rotten person in a time when America could have used a racial healer.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaseous Clay, August 19, 2012
Jack Cashill's Sucker Punch is a belated but much appreciated honest look at the real Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay or even more appropriately Gaseous Clay. Throughout his life, Ali was portrayed as witty, political and even as a sort of poet( though doggerel is more appropos), but in point of fact, he was a cruel and hateful man who was but a useful idiot in the hands of the Nation of Islam. His fallback on any opponent who was black, e.g. Floyd Patterson and Joe Frazier, was the ad hominem attack of Uncle Tom. He even seems to been a racist, note his commentary re the very African features of Joe Frazier. Again, thanks to Mr. Cashill for shining the light of truth on the left's favorite fighter.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death of the Ali Myth and the Birth of the Truth, July 7, 2011
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Just as Prometheus midwifed(?) the birth of Athena fully formed from the brow of Zeus, Jack Cashill brings forth fully formed the Truth of Muhammad Ali from the mythological meta-narrative created by self serving hacks of diverse backgrounds and motives. It's all here, the middle class upbringing in a solidly middle class home. Ali's exploitation and domination by powerful personalities. His betrayal of Malcom. His betrayal of his wife and children. His seeming indifference to the murder of a black family by Nation of Islam thugs. His disdain of Joe Louis and Sugar Ray. His betrayal of and cruelty to Frasier (though not mentioned in the book Joe was getting 60% in the first fight, Ali phoned Joe and begged for a 50-50 split because he was near broke. Joe gave it to him. This was told to me by someone in the room as the call came in; Ali of course crapped all over Joe). The real reason he avoided the draft. And finally, how all this and more comes together to endear Himself to the perpetually angry Left and how the Left used Ali to advance their cause. Interwoven through the book are the characters that made Ali...Ali; Liston, Patterson, Foreman, Norton and Frazier and how Ali affected them. For me the best part of the book came towards the end when Ali, broken and failing, comes clean regarding his faith, how it was all a sham till late in his life. As the author points out, this is powerful stuff; Ali comes close to making a St. Augustine like confession of Faith....very powerful stuff and sadly not developed. There's a possible great book there if someone would write it. Very good book!
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Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream
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