Yesterday, Muhammad Ali turned 74 years old. Known simply as “The Greatest”, Ali transcended boxing to become an important social, cultural, political, and religious figure over the past 50 years.
Growing up in Louisville, KY, 12-year old Ali was introduced to boxing in a rather unusual fashion: After his bike was stolen, a teary-eyed Ali told a police officer he would “whup” the person who stole it if he ever caught him. That police officer happened to moonlight as a boxing coach, and the rest is history. After representing the USA in the 1960 Olympics and taking home the gold medal, Ali went on to become the greatest professional boxer in the history of the sport. But that was just the beginning of his journey. After establishing his sporting dominance, Ali made cultural waves by officially converting to a rather aggressive sect of the Islamic religion (the Nation of Islam) and refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War in any capacity. Despite all the controversy swirling around him, however, Ali stuck to his beliefs and kept on boxing. In 1996, Ali had an emotional return to the Olympic stage by lighting the Olympic Torch in Atlanta.
Even if you’ve never watched a boxing match in your entire life, you likely know who Muhammad Ali is. He still remains a courageous figure to this very day, battling Parkinson’s disease like he once battled ring opponents. By the strength of his own convictions, he has transformed himself into a inspiration.
Here are some titles that can help all ages appreciate the legacy of Muhammad Ali…
Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champion by Walter Dean Myers. 9780064437189. 2016. Grade K-3.
Muhammad Ali by Colleen Hord. 9781618102850. 2013. Grade 1-3.
Laila Ali: Champion Boxer by Norman D. Graubart. 9780766071308. 2015. Grade 3-5.
Who Is Muhammad Ali? by James Buckley. 9780448479552. 2014. Grade 3-5.
Rope-A-Dope by Pete Birle. 9781629201276. 2015. Grade 3-5.
Ali: An American Champion by Barry Denenberg. 9781481401418. 2014. Grade 4-7.
Muhammad Ali: The Greatest by Susan Brophy Down. 9780778710431. 2013. Grade 6-9.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali by Neal Adams. 9781401228415. 2010. Grade 7-Adult.
High School & Above
Muhammad Ali: Conscientious Objector by Tim Graham. 9781502610515. 2016. Grade 9-12.
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight by Howard Bingham. 9781590772089. 2013.
Muhammad Ali: The Story of a Boxing Legend by Alan Goldstein. 9781780974637. 2014.
King of the World by David Remnick. 9780804173629. 2014. Grade 11-Adult.
How Muhammad Ali Can Change Your Life by Kevin Mitchell. 9781781313497. 2014.
The Soul of a Butterfly by Muhammad Ali. 9781476747378. 2013. Grade 11-Adult.
Facing Ali. 2009. Adult.
Ali. 9780767869775. 2001. Adult.