With the passing of a legend, both in sports and in life, I would be remiss not to remind everyone to revisit his greatness in the Charles R. Smith book illustrated by Bryan Collier called Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali published in 2007. There’s a reason that it remains on our high school summer reading list with multiple copies sitting on our shelf: it’s the interest, the history, the personality, and the unbelievable understanding of who Ali was in a mere 80 pages.
What I loved about it then and continue to love about it now is how it captures Ali’s essence. It’s like watching director Baz Luhrmann re-create Romeo + Juliet for a contemporary audience, yet you’re still hearing Shakespeare’s lines and get it. Smith uses Ali’s prophetic lyricism and skillful word play to deliver punch after punch to the world and his opponents. Combine this with Collier’s skillful renditions of famous fights and it’s a knockout. Readers learn the chronology of his life and his impact during the Vietnam era. This is a bonus to learning about his athletic prowess, being delivered by Ali’s own words. Those who have seen and heard the clips or are old enough to have watched him during his illustrious career can hear his words spoken as they read them on the page.
If you haven’t picked up this book, you must.