Facing Ali

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Facing Ali

by Stephen Brunt

Knopf Canada | October 7, 2003 | Trade Paperback |

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They won, they lost, they were scorned or cheered, but they got in the ring with the champ. Muhammad Ali through the stories of 15 of his opponents - an incredible cross-section that reveals Ali as never before.

Every fighter who got into the ring with Ali shone brighter as a result; no life or career could be the same afterwards. Stephen Brunt, Canada's most respected sports writer, has travelled to meet the men who fought Ali, opening a new perspective on the most famous man on the planet. They include great champions and "tomato cans", no-hopers and a few men who beat Ali; by turns triumphant and tragic, hilarious, uplifting and angry, each tells a different story.
Brunt speaks to men like Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes, who remember their titanic bouts with Ali with love and rancour. In 1963 Henry Cooper's perfect left hook floored Ali - but he was saved by the bell and some ringside shenanigans. Cooper's moment still helped make " 'Ammerin' 'Enry" into Sir Henry Cooper, while the little-known Jurgen Blin returned from facing Ali in Zurich straight to his job at a sausage factory.

The men he fought can tell us about Ali the boxer as no-one else can. But they also saw Ali invent himself as a media personality before such a thing existed. They were there when Ali's personality and courage, his controversial beliefs and his refusal to play the parts assigned to him, indelibly changed the United States and the world. Stephen Brunt has fashioned their stories into an engaging portrait of the man who remains a phenomenon.

"That night I could have beaten Godzilla. I was that sure of myself. And in that kind of shape, I could have fought for fifty rounds, easy. I was just so cocky at that point. I knew before the bell rang, in my head and in my camp, that I was going to win the fight. . . . After the decision was announced, I went right to Howard Cosell and said, 'What do you say now, Howard?'" -- Ken Norton

"When Ali was down, I remember saying to my ringman Al Braverman, 'Start the car, we're going to the bank, we're millionaires.' And Al said, 'You'd better turn around. Because he's getting up, and he looks pissed off.'" -- Chuck Wepner


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: October 7, 2003

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973515

ISBN - 13: 9780676973518

Found in: Sports and Fitness

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– More About This Product –

Facing Ali

Facing Ali

by Stephen Brunt

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: October 7, 2003

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973515

ISBN - 13: 9780676973518

Read from the Book

SECONDS OUT: INTRODUCTION Several years back, a former champion of the world began his comeback in humble surroundings. He certainly wasn’t a great fighter -- more a creation of promotional and managerial smarts than anything else -- but still, he’d known better places than Lulu’s, once, in an earlier life, a discount department store. Now it was billed as the world’s biggest nightclub, an enormous place containing several different bars and featuring musical acts from the fringes of the nostalgic imagination. The mystery of whatever happened to so-and-so, a one-hit wonder from the mid-1960s, was often solved when his name appeared on the marquee. But staging a fight at Lulu’s was more of a risk than bringing in Mitch Ryder or Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and so even with a big name on the bill, the crowd was limited to a few hundred zealots, huddled together in one corner of the vast floor space. Those who were hip to the ways of boxing understood that a classic probably wasn’t in the cards. Though the glamour boy’s name was still worth money in the pugilistic economy, he needed a confidence builder. So his opponent would be chosen purely for his unthreatening nature, a career loser, a tomato can, an afterthought. His list of credits mattered not at all, since his role was entirely supporting. He would show up, act like a boxer, ideally put up a bit of a struggle and then be knocked out and forgotten -- on his way out of town before
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From the Publisher

They won, they lost, they were scorned or cheered, but they got in the ring with the champ. Muhammad Ali through the stories of 15 of his opponents - an incredible cross-section that reveals Ali as never before.

Every fighter who got into the ring with Ali shone brighter as a result; no life or career could be the same afterwards. Stephen Brunt, Canada's most respected sports writer, has travelled to meet the men who fought Ali, opening a new perspective on the most famous man on the planet. They include great champions and "tomato cans", no-hopers and a few men who beat Ali; by turns triumphant and tragic, hilarious, uplifting and angry, each tells a different story.
Brunt speaks to men like Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes, who remember their titanic bouts with Ali with love and rancour. In 1963 Henry Cooper's perfect left hook floored Ali - but he was saved by the bell and some ringside shenanigans. Cooper's moment still helped make " 'Ammerin' 'Enry" into Sir Henry Cooper, while the little-known Jurgen Blin returned from facing Ali in Zurich straight to his job at a sausage factory.

The men he fought can tell us about Ali the boxer as no-one else can. But they also saw Ali invent himself as a media personality before such a thing existed. They were there when Ali's personality and courage, his controversial beliefs and his refusal to play the parts assigned to him, indelibly changed the United States and the world. Stephen Brunt has fashioned their stories into an engaging portrait of the man who remains a phenomenon.

"That night I could have beaten Godzilla. I was that sure of myself. And in that kind of shape, I could have fought for fifty rounds, easy. I was just so cocky at that point. I knew before the bell rang, in my head and in my camp, that I was going to win the fight. . . . After the decision was announced, I went right to Howard Cosell and said, 'What do you say now, Howard?'" -- Ken Norton

"When Ali was down, I remember saying to my ringman Al Braverman, 'Start the car, we're going to the bank, we're millionaires.' And Al said, 'You'd better turn around. Because he's getting up, and he looks pissed off.'" -- Chuck Wepner


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Stephen Brunt is Canada's premier sports writer and commentator. He began to write for the sports section of The Globe and Mail in 1985. His 1988 series on negligence and corruption in boxing won him the Michener award for public service journalism. In 1991 he took his children to meet Muhammad Ali at the legendary fighter's home, and was nominated for the National Newspaper Award for his account of that visit. Brunt is also the author of Mean Business: The Rise and Fall of Shawn O'Sullivan, Second to None: The Roberto Alomar Story, and Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, where he lives now with his family.

Editorial Reviews

“... makes for riveting reading.” -- Kitchener-Waterloo Record “Just when you thought there were no new angles to be mined with the Muhammad Ali story, one of Canada’s best sportswriters comes up with an idea that is so splendid in its simplicity -- what did Ali’s opponents think of him? -- that sportswriters everywhere are punching themselves for not thinking of it first. [Brunt] delves into the often brutish, punch-drunk worlds of Chuvalo, Cooper, Bugner, Norton et al to show how their lives were changed forever by entering the ring with Ali.” – Cleve Dheensaw, Times Colonist “Brunt reveals a deep respect for the men who ply the bruising trade of prizefighting. [ Facing Ali ] is a winner.” -- The Kingston Whig-Standard “In Facing Ali: The Opposition Weighs In , Stephen Brunt has found a refreshing and revealing entrance into the storehouse of myth and lore that has grown up around The Champ. In examining the stories of 15 fighters who traded punches with the former Cassius Clay, Globe and Mail columnist Brunt goes the distance in a brand new direction, scoring a unanimous decision.” -- The Toronto Star “A fascinating, well-researched and sometimes deeply sad book. You needn’t be a boxing nut to enjoy this rogue’s gallery…. Facing Ali offers some swift, hard jabs by one of our country’s best sportswriters, one who knows boxing and, more importantly, the frailty that goes with huma
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