We all know of Ali at the height of his ‘superstar’ status, but what of the boxing champion in his retiring years? Davis Miller’s Approaching Ali is the single most intimate look at Muhammad Ali’s life beyond boxing. Since 1988 when Miller knocked on the door of his childhood idol and asked for his collection of magazines to be signed, he has become a great personal friend of Ali and the respect has been mutual, with Ali telling Miller of the wisdom he can feel “rumblin’ around inside [him].”
The short stories in this biography portray Ali who is now physically frail but charged with a great spiritual energy and an almost superhuman strength of mind. Maya Angelou has described the book as “lyrical, important, and rigorously humanizing. There is music and truth in the sentences he writes.” Having had Parkinson’s disease for forty years, almost half of his life, Ali has suffered with dignity and it is this very human, fallible side of him — no less graceful and inspiring — that Miller wishes to bring to light with his biography. Miller’s voice is tender, sometimes melancholy and often vivacious, always ready to take inspiration in the most unexpected ways from his idol and his “multi-lived, many-hearted, confounding, irrepressible, fantastic, and finally undefinable friend.”
Davis Miller, whose story My Dinner with Ali was judged by David Halberstam to be one of the best American sports stories of the twentieth century, is the internationally best-selling author of The Tao of Muhammad Ali and co-curator of the I Am The Greatest exhibition at The O2. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina in the USA.
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.