The more I learn about Muhammad Ali, the less I realize I actually know about the near mythical boxing champion. As an all-around sports fan growing up decades after Ali’s final fight, I’m certainly familiar with the sound bites (“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and “I am the greatest!”), and the widely accepted knowledge that Ali, previously known as Cassius Clay, was not only the greatest boxer of his era, but one of the most dominant sports figures of all time.
All of that leaves out so many fascinating details that shape the full figure of the personality; Ali’s public refusal to go to Vietnam, his connections to the likes of Malcolm X or Sam Cooke, his thoughts and influence on race, or – and this one blew my mind – that in 1990 Muhammad Ali met with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of 15 hostages!
The new Titan Comics graphic novel Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974 doesn’t deign to capture all of this in full, but in its way it does manage to shade in a more fully realized portrait of the world heavyweight champion, from his origins through his iconic comeback against George Foreman in Zaire (popularly known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”). The end result is one of the most interesting sports documentary graphic novels I’ve read, and one of my favorite reads of 2021. [Read more…] about Best New Graphic Novel: Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974