Exclusive: Ali’s brother releases “The Greatest” memoir with the much-heralded ”My Brother, Muhammad Ali”
WHO IS MUHAMMAD ALI
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist and philanthropist. Nicknamed “the Greatest”, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century and as the greatest boxer of all time.
Ali was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He began training as an amateur boxer at age 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. He converted to Islam and became a Muslim after 1961; he eventually took the name Muhammad Ali. He won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a major upset at age 22 in 1964. In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the military, citing his religious beliefs and ethical opposition to the Vietnam War. He was found guilty of draft evasion so he faced 5 years in prison and was stripped of his boxing titles. He stayed out of prison as he appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, but he had not fought for nearly four years and lost a period of peak performance as an athlete.
Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation, and he was a high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement. As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad‘s Nation of Islam (NOI). He later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam, and supporting racial integration like his former mentor Malcolm X.
Ali was a leading heavyweight boxer of the 20th century, and he remains the only three-time lineal champion of that division. His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years. Ali is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times. He has been ranked the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, and as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC, and the third greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury. He was involved in several historic boxing matches and feuds, most notably his fights with Joe Frazier, such as the Fight of the Century and the Thrilla in Manila, and his fight with George Foreman, known as The Rumble in the Jungle, which has been called “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century” and was watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide, becoming the world’s most-watched live television broadcast at the time. Ali thrived in the spotlight at a time when many fighters let their managers do the talking, and he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash-talking, and often free-styled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, anticipating elements of hip hop.
Outside the ring, Ali attained success as a musician, where he received two Grammy nominations. He also featured as an actor and writer, releasing two autobiographies. Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and focused on religion, philanthropinism and activism. In 1984, he made public his diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome, which some reports attribute to boxing-related injuries, though he and his specialist physicians disputed this. He remained an active public figure globally, but in his later years made increasingly limited public appearances as his condition worsened, and he was cared for by his family. Ali died on June 3, 2016.
The life and times documenting “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali have been recounted throughout a plethora of multimedia formats ever since his bombastic, ever-charismatic arrival as the world’s most-loved and cherished sportsman. However, with the much-anticipated and thoughtfully sincere release of brand new memoir entitled “My Brother, Muhammad Ali”, Rahaman Ali, Muhammad Ali’s singular sibling and closest lifelong friend, artfully revisits and candidly recollects unprecedented and highly poignant tales of his late-great brother beyond the mere parameters of the public persona and professional sports icon.
The everlasting close-knit brotherhood between Muhammad and Rahaman Ali was an unbridled relationship that illustrated an unbreakable bond, a profound loyalty and a love undiluted and undying until the end of time. The innate connection and loving camaraderie witnessed both Muhammad and Rahaman grow up together, live together, train together, travel together and indeed compete both in the street and boxing ring together.
The heart-warming, multi-faceted and hard-hitting “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” comprehensively details Rahaman’s highly eloquent and vividly powerful voice and storytelling ability to share with the world quite like no other biographical release on Muhammad Ali prior.
The in-depth and eye-opening “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” by Rahaman Ali assertively and stylishly underscores various dimensions and exclusive insights from a fine perspective of his travels and life shared with “The Greatest”. Rahaman Ali’s majestic “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” delivers an emphatic knock-out and confirms that the Champ is indeed still here.
FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340AM’s Dean Perretta caught up with the Author of brand new memoir, Rahaman Ali, to discuss the must-read, brand new release of “My Brother, Muhammad Ali”, coupled alongside the creative and healing process writing “My Brother, Muhammad Ali”, as well as Rahaman officially setting the record straight, once and for all, on any misconceptions about his beloved late-great brother, “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali.
Dean Perretta: Rahaman, can you talk about the critically heralded “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” and the overall creative and healing process when creating this very insightful and highly definitive memoir?
Rahaman Ali: Yes. When you talk about the creative and healing process of writing a book on the most famous sportsman who also happened to be your own brother, your only sibling, it’s very emotional for me to be honest. I am an emotional person and whenever I look at photos of my brother Muhammad or reflect back on his life and career, I start to cry. But it was an absolutely wonderful experience because when I look back at the good times, the hurdles, the fun times we both had together, it gives me a sense of joy. My longtime memory is OK but short time memory has started to fade. I am glad I wrote the book now before my memory really slipped.
Dean Perretta: Regarding “My Brother, Muhammad Ali”, “The Baddest Man on the Planet”, “Iron” Mike Tyson said, and I quote, “Rahaman has, at last, written the definitive biography on his late brother, which tells the real Ali story”, whereas the legendary George Foreman also stated that the memoir is “The real life of the Great One”. However, with that being said, what does it mean personally to receive such positive kudos from the aforementioned Professional Boxing icons?
Rahaman Ali: Let me tell you something, and please remember this, the two gentlemen you just mentioned have always loved my brother and showed the ultimate respect. Mike (Tyson) is a great man who not only has good things to say about Muhammad behind closed doors, but he has always in public expressed his sincere words and put my brother on a pedestal. George (Foreman) is just a sweetheart. He is a mammoth in the world of boxing but still feels Muhammad was in another league, a league of its own, not just as a boxer but also beyond that. In fact, George says to talk about Muhammad, as the great boxing champion is a putdown. He believes Muhammad was much bigger than boxing. I agree. Furthermore, Mike and George made history themselves in the sport of boxing. Mike was the youngest and George was the oldest to ever win the heavyweight crown. They both earned it.
Dean Perretta: How imperative was it to essentially leave no stone unturned in “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” and, of course, finally set the record straight on any preconceived misconceptions about Muhammad’s life and times, both professionally and personally?
Rahaman Ali: I feel I had to cover a lot of ground to really encapsulate Muhammad’s life into a tome of 400 pages. Initially, the idea was to gravitate toward Muhammad Ali the man and refrain from going into a lot of the boxing career. However, after contemplation, I felt to do justice to the book I had to write the definitive biography – A to Z with a personal touch which makes this book stand out from all other biographies. Although Muhammad’s career in boxing had been written about countless times, I had my perspective because I was there to witness it. Furthermore, Muhammad lived ten lifetimes compared to the average man, and there were anecdotes and intriguing stories that had never really been shared before in the public domain. A lot of fans are interested in learning about a celebrity in regards to what he likes, dislikes, what was he like at home, etc. behind the public persona, and I think it’s part and parcel of any memoir or biography to cover this ground as well as the professional career.
Dean Perretta: What do you feel ultimately separates “My Brother, Muhammad Ali” from the countless volume of biographies and memoirs which have previously been released detailing “The Greatest”?
Rahaman Ali: Over the decades there have been many books written on Muhammad. Some good and some of them were not so good. Now, you tell me how many biographies can you find on my brother written by his family member? Without sounding egoistic, I was the one human being that knew Muhammad more than anyone in this world. I was his closest family member. From growing up together as kids to being his best sparring partner. We were best friends and you will not find anyone disputing this fact. So, back to your question, what makes this book different to others is the first-hand source – me. If you want to learn about Muhammad Ali how he spent time behind closed doors, with his brother and family, and kids, to what he liked and disliked, and his fears behind the scenes to boxing stories from the personal perspective of the man closest to him then this book is for you. Muhammad had his own battles behind the scenes that have never been written about nor known by the public. And I felt compelled to share these with the world. You see the thing with Muhammad is he not only appeals to boxing and fight fans, but he transcends sport and people from all walks of life are fans of his. All types of people are fascinated by his life story and his story is more than just about the boxing ring. And to this end, I ensured the most intimate and definitive biography ever written on Muhammad Ali would appeal to the masses. Michelle Obama, who has sold millions, are you telling me only fans of politics bought her book? By the way, President Obama adulates my brother and I respect him profoundly for sharing a video tribute in the White House when my brother passed away.
Muhammad Ali was as skilled with words as he was in the ring. His poignant sayings about sports and life figure to remain iconic for generations to come alongside the lore of his historic fights.
Today, in memory of the man who not only was the greatest but who also made sure to tell you he was, we rank his greatest quips.
“I don’t count the sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count. That’s what makes you a champion.”
Why we love it: Numbers aren’t absolute. People have different bodies, are at different levels of training, have different pain thresholds. But, like many of Ali’s sayings, the idea he is expressing makes a lot of sense, even when dismissing what the rest of the world sees as a benchmark.
“Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”
Why we love it: Although it’s hard to think of many times when Ali was actually silent, a phrase like this has more impact coming from a guy who seemingly had a comeback for everything than it does from a person who is naturally quiet.
“I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.”
Why we love it: For much of Ali’s career, he filled the air with the idea that the people around him didn’t make him — that he made himself. But that doesn’t mean Ali didn’t recognize how much people cared for him. He says as much here, relating to the age-old “athlete as a role model” dynamic and wishing people felt the same way about those around them.
“It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you down. It’s the pebble in your shoe.”
Why we love it: People tend to be fixated on the large problems or goals in life. What Ali brilliantly suggests here is that everyday goals and challenges that affects people most, not the big-picture obstacles easiest to focus on.
“The will must be stronger than the skill.”
Why we love it: Ali was undoubtedly an incredible athlete who was uniquely talented. But it’s also undeniable that no one believed in Ali more than he did himself. Seemingly willing himself to some victories, Ali owes part of record to his self-confidence — beyond just his ability to move and punch.
“Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”
Why we love it: Ali’s Parkinson’s diagnosis was not only his loss, but it also robbed us of one of the world’s most colorful characters. It’s hard to know how Ali was feeling in his final years, but it was clear that he didn’t mind attending events and making appearances despite his condition. If those days didn’t count for him, they certainly counted for those who will never forget the day they were graced with his presence.
“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Why we love it: Ali was the ultimate showman. No one, even to this day, could captivate a crowd and fill the air with as much life as Ali did. So despite the show and his ability to perform when all are watching, it’s a revelation that he so valued time spent working behind the scenes.
“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I was really the greatest.”
Why we love it: Successful people often need to have the confidence that will be successful. Although this much seems obvious, such confidence and swagger is often disdained. That being said, Ali’s assuredness here makes a lot of sense. Ultimate self-confidence is the first step to realizing a dream.
“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. You can’t hit what your eyes don’t see.”
Why we love it: Ali’s most famous quote deserves all the love it gets. He beautifully juxtaposed the rhythmic butterfly and dangerous bee to concisely capture his fighting style. The saying makes so much sense when watching Ali box. The big man danced around the ring with shocking grace, waiting for the right time for a stinging punch.
“Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Why we love it: This quote often is truncated to the last part “Impossible is nothing.” But the rest means so much more. While many will immediately deem a goal impossible, for the right type of person, that doubt leads to untold motivation.