"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky. His very first boxing coach, former police officer Joe Martin, told him, "You better learn how to fight before you start challenging people." Once considered the underdog, Cassius, later known as Muhammad Ali, would eventually win the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers recounts the champ's most famous fights and examines the depth and complexity of the larger-than-life legend Muhammad Ali. The bold, vibrant art of Alix Delinois reflects the beauty and power of the man who could "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. He learned how to box at the age of twelve with the help of a former policeman. Cassius was fast and soon became a Golden Gloves champion. By the time he was eighteen, he qualified for a place on the American Olympic boxing team and went on to win a gold medal. He won his first professional fight and then won eighteen more in a row. Cassius loved attention, and he liked to talk about being the greatest fighter in the world. Some people though he bragged too much because he had not even fought the top fighters. He had a chance to fight the heavyweight champion of the world, Charles "Sonny" Liston. Cassius was confident he could beat Liston even though Liston was a strong puncher, but Cassius claimed he could "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." He danced around the floor while Liston tried to connect a punch. Six rounds later, Liston was finished. Cassius Clay was the new heavyweight champion of the world. Eventually, Clay's fans came to know him as Muhammad Ali. Ali had joined the Nation of Islam and became a Muslim and follower of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He refused to be inducted into the armed forces of the United States because of his religious beliefs. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but it was appealed to higher courts. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Ali should be excused from serving in the army. In 1996, Ali was invited to light the Olympic torch at the games in Atlanta, Georgia even though he had been fighting a nerve disorder called Parkinson's disease for many years. Well-known author Walter Dean Myers has written a portrait of a determined and talented man who has become the People's Champion. Illustrations are big, powerful, and action-filled. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi