Synopses & Reviews
Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell were must-see TV long before that phrase became ubiquitous. Individually interesting, together they were mesmerizing. They were profoundly different -- young and old, black and white, a Muslim and a Jew, Ali barely literate and Cosell an editor of his university's law review. Yet they had in common forces that made them unforgettable: Both were, above all, performers who covered up their deep personal insecurities by demanding -- loudly and often -- public acclaim. Theirs was an extraordinary alliance that produced drama, comedy, controversy, and a mutual respect that helped shape both men's lives.
Dave Kindred -- uniquely equipped to tell the Ali-Cosell story after a decades-long intimate working relationship with both men -- re-creates their unlikely connection in ways never before attempted. From their first meeting in 1962 through Ali's controversial conversion to Islam and refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army (the right for him to do both was publicly defended by Cosell), Kindred explores both the heroics that created the men's upward trajectories and the demons that brought them to sadness in their later lives. Kindred draws on his experiences with Ali and Cosell, fresh reporting, and interviews with scores of key personalities -- including the families of both. In the process, Kindred breaks new ground in our understanding of these two unique men. The book presents Ali not as a mythological character but as a man in whole, and it shows Cosell not in caricature but in faithful scale. With vivid scenes, poignant dialogue, and new interpretations of historical events, this is a biography that is novelistically engrossing -- a richly evocative portrait of the friendship that shaped two giants and changed sports and television forever.
"Veteran sportswriter Kindred seeks to 'recover Muhammad Ali from mythology and Howard Cosell from caricature' with interlocking portraits that trace the rising careers of the boxer and the sportscaster to their first meeting in the early 1960s and then through the creation of one of television's most popular bantering couples. Their on-air playfulness didn't necessarily translate into full friendship. Kindred carefully notes that while Cosell supported the heavyweight champion's right to refuse induction into the army during Vietnam, he never expressed support for Ali's actual position. Likewise, Ali knew exactly how the relationship benefited them, once telling Cosell, 'You know you need me more than I need you.' Kindred's close relationships with both men inform the story without overwhelming it, and he depicts the moments at which he was not present Cosell's early battles with anti-Semitism in the broadcast industry, Ali's fear that the Nation of Islam would kill him the way they did Malcolm X with the same immediacy he brings to his eyewitness perspective. There are already many books on Ali, but few independent considerations of Cosell, and none that show so effectively how each man helped create the legend surrounding the other." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This unprecedented biography of the relationship between Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell reveals how the pair made the wide world of sports as sensational as their larger-than-life personalities. of photos.
Table of Contents
Prologue: They Charmed and Bedeviled Us
PART ONE: DREAMING
1. "Bound Together By a Common Sympathy"
2. "America Was in Everybody's Mouth"
3. "You Got a Little Joe Louis There"
4. "Liston is a Tramp, I'm the Champ"
5. "The Black Man's White Man"
6. "I Don't Have to Be What You Want Me to Be"
7. "I Ain't Got Nothing Against Them Viet Cong"
PART TWO: CLIMBING
8. "We Don't Want to Live With the White Man"
10. "You'll Never Really Know Him"
PART THREE: AT THE TOP
11. "God Knows the World Wants Me to Win"
12. "I'm the Only One Who Can Tell It"
13. "I Ain't Gonna Wind Up Like Malcolm X"
14. "A Twentieth-Century Torture Device"
15. "You Know You Need Me More Than I Need You"
PART FOUR: FALLING
16. "You Feelin' Any Pain, Joe, Feelin' Any Pain?"
17. "I Know Who I Am"
18. "Mother Cosell, Saving Us All From Prostitution"
19. "I'd Rather Be Punished Here Than in the Hereafter"
20. "Your Unconquerable Soul"
21. "The World's Waiting For Me"
22. "You Stood Up and Told the Truth"
PART FIVE: RISING
23. "He's America's Only Living Saint"
Epilogue: "The Alpha and the Omega"