Review Blog

Feb 07 2019

Muhammad Ali by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

cover image

Ill. by Brosmind. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781786037336.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Themes: Muhammad Ali. Boxing. Ambition. One of a series called Little people, big dreams this little book about Muhammad Ali will intrigue younger readers to find out more about this man. The series aims to show that great scientists, thinkers, artists, designers and sports people all began as a child with a dream. And Muhammad was no different. Born in Kentucky in 1942, he began fighting when his new bike was stolen and the police officer invited him to join his boxing classes suggesting that he needed to be able to box if he wished to deal with the thief. Beginning his training at 12 years old, by 18 he won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the Rome Olympics. From there he won major events but when conscripted to go to Vietnam, he refused and was banned from boxing for three years. Returning he kept winning and was the first man to win the heavyweight belt three times. He was involved in many charities, taking seriously the Islamic duty of charity, and fought for the end of racial discrimination.
Told in brief pared back sentences, the factual information will impel readers to look further, wanting to find out more about this man who had such an impact upon the twentieth century as a boxer, black activist, philanthropist and sportsman. His sayings have become part of our language and his images are recognised the world over.
Accompanying the brief text are similarly simplified images showing the young Cassius Clay and his family, his training and winning the gold medal, on to his conversion to Islam, awards he won and charitable work pursued in the latter years of his life. The illustrations clearly show his strength as a boxer and latterly his physical deterioration, raising awareness amongst the readers of brain damage that result from concussion. The last two pages of the book give a complete list of all the books in this series, while the pages before give a written account of his life.
Fran Knight

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