Ali Remembered: A Collection of Stories About the Passing of an Icon
The Courier-Journal-USA TODAY Sports

Ali Remembered: A Collection of Stories About the Passing of an Icon

The passing of Muhammad Ali has inspired numerous remembrances and obituaries. We collect some of the best.
June 4, 2016, 3:30pm

The New Yorker

The Outsized Life of Muhammad Ali by David Remnick

The Pulitzer-Prize winning Remnick, editor at the New Yorker since 1998, previously wrote the Ali biography King of the World.

Cassius's father was a man of thwarted dreams. He distrusted whites, and felt he was prevented from becoming a painter of canvasses rather than of signs and billboards. He drank too much, and his bitterness sometimes tipped into chaos. He was, one of Ali's friends said, the source of a great deal of pain in the family. His mother, Odessa, was usually the object of Cassius, Sr.,'s fury and fists, and she was the boy's comfort.


Muhammad Ali: Why they called him 'The Greatest' and why I called him my friend by Jerry Izenberg

The 85-year-old Izenberg is a member of the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey and was a 2000 inductee of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. He won the Associated Press Sports Editors' Red Smith Award in 2000.

I watched Ali press the flesh in Manila and Kuala Lumpur, in Kinshasa and London, in Vegas and New York, saw the magic of his charisma hypnotize Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and enough other entertainment superstars to light up the Hollywood sky. I saw it dwarf the psyches of absolute-power heads of state like Zaire's Mobuto Seseseko and the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos. I saw it turn politicians, captains of industry and Howard Cosell into slack-jawed, Jell-o-kneed sycophants.

New York Daily News

The Muhammad Ali I Knew by Bill Gallo

Gallo, the longtime Daily News columnist and cartoonist, wrote this Ali tribute before he died in 2011.

Ali was a heckler to everybody — even to Joe, the man he greatly admired.

"You're Joe Louis?" Ali chided. "Why, you ain't so big, and all you did was fight that 'Bum of the Month Club.'"

Louis, a pretty good counter-puncher, came back with: "Well, if you were around in those 'Bum of the Month' days, you would'a been on the list." It was the only time I ever saw Ali speechless.

Read More: Exclusive: At Home With Muhammad Ali, the Father

The Guardian

The man behind the towering social and political icon by Thomas Hauser


The Pulitzer-Prize nominated Hauser wrote the 1991 Ali biography Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.

In researching Ali's life, I proceeded on several levels. First, there were Muhammad's personal papers, medical records, cartons of legal and financial documents, newspapers, magazines, and tapes. Next, I interviewed approximately two hundred people who'd known Ali over the years: members of his family, friends, ring opponents, business associates, doctors, world leaders, and others. Unlike Ali's earlier biographers, I enjoyed total access to virtually all of the key players in his life. My questions were answered with candour by almost everyone. And there were countless days spent with Muhammad. I travelled with him around the world, spent weeks in his home, and entertained him in mine.

The New York Times

Muhammad Ali Dies at 74: Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century by Robert Lipsyte

Lipsyte, a novelist, sportswriter, and one time ESPN ombudsman, covered the Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight title fight for the New York Times in 1964.

If there was a supertitle to Ali's operatic life, it was this: "I don't have to be who you want me to be; I'm free to be who I want." He made that statement the morning after he won his first heavyweight title. It informed every aspect of his life, including the way he boxed.

The Nation

'I Just Wanted to Be Free': The Radical Reverberations of Muhammad Ali by Dave Zirin


Zirin writes about the intersection of race and politics in sports.

What Muhammad Ali did—in a culture that worships sports and violence as well as a culture that idolizes black athletes while criminalizing black skin—was redefine what it meant to be tough and collectivize the very idea of courage. Through the Champ's words on the streets and deeds in the ring, bravery was not only standing up to Sonny Liston. It was speaking truth to power, no matter the cost. He was a boxer whose very presence taught a simple and dangerous lesson fifty years ago: "real men" fight for peace and "real women" raise their voices and join the fray. Or as Bryant Gumbel said years ago, "Muhammad Ali refused to be afraid. And being that way, he gave other people courage."

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Remembering Muhammad Ali's Legacy by Jeremy and Dick Schaap

In this ESPN video, Jeremy Schaap narrates a tribute to Ali that Schaap says was mostly written by his late father, the legendary Dick Schaap.

He was for the last 40 years of his life, the most recognizable human being on the planet. And even when Parkinson's disease slowed his step and speech, he still reveled in that recognition.


Muhammad Ali Transcended Sports, Culture, and Time by Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a writer at large at Esquire and was previously a staff writer at Grantland, among numerous places.

He embodied the country, in all its historic, inherent contradictions, in all its promises, broken and unbroken, and in all of its lost promises and hard-won glories. He insisted on the rights that the country said were his from birth and, in demanding them, freed himself to enjoy them, and freed the country, if only for a moment, be something more than even the Founders thought it would be. And now, he's passed from the earth. It was a great, golden trumpet of a life he led, and it is calling, calling still, and will still be calling, as the old hymn puts it, when time shall be no more.


The New York Times

Muhammad Ali's Words Stung Like a Bee, Too by New York Times Staff

A collection of the some of the best Ali quotes accompanied by video.

"Shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me."

Sports Illustrated


Few places photographed Ali as comprehensively and iconically as Sports Illustrated. SI collects some of its best images for a tribute.