cover image Muhammad Ali: A Humanitarian Life

Muhammad Ali: A Humanitarian Life

Margueritte Shelton. Rowman & Littlefield, $34 (272p) ISBN 978-1-538-17154-7

Shelton, a humanitarian volunteer and member of the Muhammad Ali Center, debuts with a conscientious study of the heavyweight boxing champion, who used his platform to advocate for social justice. Ali (1942–2016), who grew up in Louisville, Ky., and began training at age 12, won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics and four years later dethroned heavyweight champ Charles “Sonny” Liston, only to have that title stripped by the World Boxing Association in 1967 after he refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War. Ali’s opposition to the war led to his public support of the civil rights movement, and he joined Martin Luther King Jr. in desegregation protests in Louisville. His stance led to a conviction for draft evasion that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971. Ali’s commitment to his convictions remained throughout his life; in 1980, President Jimmy Carter recruited Ali to persuade African countries to boycott the Moscow Olympics to protest human rights violations involving the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Shelton also explores such lesser-known chapters in Ali’s life as his charitable fundraising and efforts to foster interfaith dialogue across world religions. Illuminating and expertly researched, this is a solid tribute to Ali’s legacy. (Feb.)