The Once and Future King

Garry Wills sums up the literary world's fixation on Ali, noting that "for some reason, people don't want fighters just to be fighters." He's right. And no matter how much we tell ourselves otherwise, for some reason we don't want Muhammad Ali to be just a fighter. Perhaps Wole Soyinka said it best in a poem:

A pestle! A Warrior who said,

I will not fight,

Yet proved a prophet's call-to-arms against a war.

Or perhaps Ali captured it himself when the Emperor told the King, "Elvis, you have to keep singin' or die to stay big. I'm gonna be big forever." Which means, with luck, the future will bring updated, expanded editions of The Muhammad Ali Reader.

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