Why the literati love Muhammad Ali

In a book that was decades in the construction, the journalist Christopher Booker argued that all stories in all literature conform to at least one of Seven Basic Plots. Ali’s life conforms to them all: Overcoming the Monster (Liston, Foreman), Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return (Zaire and then Manila, where he fought Frazier), Comedy (“I hospitalised a brick/I’m so mean I make medicine sick”), Tragedy (the withdrawal of his boxing licence during his peak years for resisting the Vietnam draft, his imprisonment by Parkinson’s) and Rebirth (his defeat of Foreman at the age of 32).

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