ESPN the Magazine’s “The Meaning of Muhammad Ali” Issue on Newsstands Friday
The Mag dedicates 34 pages not only to Muhammad Ali’s life but also to the multitude of ways the boxer helped define the lives of so many others. The introduction by Steve Wulf, “The Meaning of Ali,” sets up the construct of how one man could mean so much, and represent so many ideals, to so many different people.
The tribute to “The Greatest” looks at the many sides of Ali with remembrances, essays, numbers, dates, photographs and his own words. It’s tough to do justice, though, to a man who defeated not only the fiercest fighters in the world but also the even more formidable forces of convention and establishment.
In his intimate portrait of Ali, William Nack recounts what the boxer said to his corner after weathering Joe Frazier’s 10th-round barrage during the 1975 Thrilla in Manila: “This must be what dyin’ is like.” But just as Ali refused to quit that night in the Philippines, he’s still answering the bell … and challenging us to give it our best shot.
Issue highlights and features:
“Simply, The Greatest,” by William Nack, takes a measure of the man with richly reported scenes of the many chapters of Ali’s life. A commissioned work by Kentucky poet Shayla Lawson titled “Float Like a Butterfly” accompanies this piece.
The full-spread timeline “The Life of Ali” traces his milestones in and out of the ring: from the first time he laced on gloves, through his storied career as a fighter, activist and humanitarian, and to his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In “Leading With His Right,” the Undefeated’s Derrick Z. Jackson delves into the impact of Ali’s defiance during the 1960s on the civil rights movement, giving it the most recognizable face and the strongest voice in the world.
Through his essay “Our Name, Our Religion,” Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib discusses how Ali’s devotion to Islam informed America and inspired those who shared his faith.
The photo spread “It’s Not Bragging If You Can Back It Up” presents stunning images that breathe life into Ali’s greatest quotes, just as his words provide context to one of the most photographed athletes in history.
The data dive “Ring Master” breaks down Ali’s numbers in a way that lends new perspective on a historic career.
In “His Gentle Soul,” Ali’s daughter Hana shares her remembrances of her father and select anecdotes from family and friends that reveal a private, peaceful side to the most public fighter in the world.
In his column The Truth, Howard Bryant explains why it is wrong to label Ali “transcendent” unless one truly appreciates what he stood for.
· “A Pair of Kings and a Trump,” by senior writer Ramona Shelburne. This piece shines the spotlight on Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and his quest to put the city at the center of the universe, his complex and sometimes volatile relationship with megastar LeBron James and Gilbert’s part in luring the Republican National Convention to Cleveland. Presented in collaboration with Doubletruck.
· NBA draft preview. The Mag kicks off this package with “Ben Simmons’ Master Plan,” a profile of the projected No. 1 pick by contributing writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Other highlights: A pro scout and a trio of ESPN Insiders break down the game of Duke star Brandon Ingram before the player gives his two cents in “A Hollywood Moment”; ESPN Insider Chad Ford sets up his draft order in “Mock ’n’ Roll”; and SportsCenter’s Kevin Connors and and NBA analyst Brad Daugherty give their take on the proliferation of college cameos in “On-the-Job Training,” a SportsCenter on the Road presentation.
Also in this issue:
MLB: Marly Rivera interviews the Colorado Rockies’ hard-hitting, slick-fielding Nolan Arenado, who reveals how he found a home at third base and a groove at the plate. Presented in collaboration with ESPN Deportes.
The Numbers: Columnist Peter Keating reveals the inefficiencies in the NHL draft and how smart team general managers can take advantage of them.