Magazine June 27, 2016, Issue

The Tragedy of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali training in Miami Beach, 1970 (Chris Smith/Popperfoto/Getty)
Why didn’t he stop fighting in time?

‘History,” sportswriter Dave Kindred wrote of Muhammad Ali in 1978, “was his sideman.” If only Ali’s history — at least his boxing career — had ended before that year.

How many of us, reeling from the champ’s death earlier this month at age 74, would trade the “inspiring” Ali of the Olympic flame and beyond — the incapacitated Ali — for an Ali who walked and talked his whole life? Why should we accept the idea that with the negation of Ali’s trademark abilities, those that transfixed the world, he accomplished more as a global figure, carried greater meaning, than he

James Rosen — Mr. Rosen is a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group and the editor of A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century (2016), an anthology of essays by William F. Buckley Jr.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


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The Week

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