The Legacy Of Muhammad Ali: ‘The Greatest’ Promoter by Knowledge@Wharton
Jonathan Eig, Randy Roberts and Davis Miller discuss the legacy of Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, civil rights leader and arguably one of the most celebrated sports icons of the 20th century, received a farewell from thousands in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky today. He died June 3 from complications related to the disease he brought so much attention and fundraising skills to — Parkinson’s. Ali did more than bring his sport to the world’s attention. “Very few people in our lifetime changed the American culture, changed the world as much as he did, especially for someone who is not in the position of political power or saw himself primarily as a political person,” says Jonathan Eig, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, who is writing a biography of Ali. He adds that Ali “was a terrible businessman — but a brilliant promoter. He was unbelievably gifted naturally at calling attention to himself” — and to his sport, one might add.
Eig joined Randy Roberts, a Purdue University history professor and the co-author of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X, and Davis Miller, author of Approaching Ali: A Reclamation in Three Acts, also a personal friend of Ali’s, to discuss the boxer’s life and legacy on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111.
In 1966 Ali was drafted and appealed for conscientious objector status, which was denied. His refusal to serve in Vietnam cost him his hard-earned titles, which were stripped from him and that kept him out of the ring during some of his prime years. Ali successfully appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. “I think in many respects the older Ali, the Ali with Parkinson’s, became an even greater man than the young, boisterous Ali,” says Miller.
Listen to the podcast above. An edited transcript will be added soon.