Review: Muhammad Ali The Untold Story: Painter, Poet, and Prophet  by Rodney Hilton Brown

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Many powerful men who left their mark on history had another side– often little known, often sensitive, and often artistic. During World War II, Churchill and Eisenhower all took time out from the tension of war to pursue their private interests in painting and writing. And so it should come as no surprise that one of the greatest fighters of all times, Muhammad Ali has another side. Ali’s artistic interests were developed by his father, Cassius Clay, Sr., who was a full-time sign painter and professional artist. Ali continued to draw and paint informally as he grew up and was able to get some serious art lessons from sports artist, 

Leroy Neiman, who attended most of his fights and with whom he had become good friends. In contrast to his belief that he was “the greatest fighter of Ali times,” it is important to note that Ali did not claim to be a great artist. In part, he created art to convey his political and religious messages in the same way he used his poetry. As Ali used to say, “I draw pictures with meanings.”Part II of this work “ALI THE POET” contains about 45 of Ali’s poems. Together with the poems in other chapters, the total approaches 40, making this book probably the largest single-source anthology of Ali’s poems available anywhere. Part III is devoted to Ali’s work for peace and racial justice in South Africa, his hostage rescue missions and his many diplomatic ventures around the world.

Guest Reviewer Frannie’s Thoughts:

“Float like a butterfly,

Sting like a bee,

If you wanna fly high,

Remember me!”

Muhammad Ali’s best-known poem

The book fulfills Muhammad Ali’s legacy and explains why he was one of the most powerful and influential men of his time. He was one of the greatest boxers in the world, winning the heavy weight championship three times. But as most exceptional aggressive leaders, he had a benevolent and artistic side. He was a painter, poet, and prophet. The author Rodney Hilton Brown rolls out the other sides of Ali, he describes a man who is dedicated to telling the truth, fighting for civil rights and instrumental in using his celebrity status, art, and poetry to convey his political and religious messages.

The book is broken up into three parts and is full of images of his art, his poetry, and articles about his role in fighting for freedom for all people around the world. Intermixed with his artistic dedication are stories about his boxing career. He not only fought in the ring, but he also fought against and in conjunction with many Diplomats around the world. Eventually, there was his final fight with Larry Holmes in 1980 that ended his career as a boxer, an artist, and poet. Even after his defeat, he never stopped fighting for social justice. In 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and he continued to fight to help others by working with charities in the USA to empower people with the disease until his death in 2016. 

Part one is about Muhammad Ali, originally Cassius Clay, Jr., the painter. His father, Cassius Clay, Sr. was a sign painter, created numerous murals for churches and taught his son the love of painting. In the 1960s Ali’s work was political and religious. In the 1970s and 1980s his art depicted peace and understanding. His paintings were primitive but their messages powerful. He started painting murals like his father about religion and social justice. He became a champion of the cultural renaissance. Ali’s work was dubbed  “Street Cred” and provided an outlet for many African Americans to express themselves and their frustrations through art instead of violence. 

Part two is about Ali the poet. The poems are well written and poignant. A thoughtful collection of 40 of his works and an insight on the evolution of his 20-year career. His speeches spanned from the lighting of the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games to when he received the USA’s highest civil award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. He is one of the most recognized figures of the twentieth century and this book is probably the best single-source anthology of Ali’s work. 

Part three is about Ali the prophet. It describes his work for peace and racial justice in South Africa, his role in hostage rescue missions and his ability to bring a country and world together with his vision. This coupled with his work and overview of his speeches at the United Nations provides a comprehensive study of Muhammad Ali legacy and his Diplomatic Ventures.   

The story is factual and provides many accounts from others of how and why Ali did what he did as an advocate for world peace; but I felt it was lacking in some personal stories about Ali himself. It was a bit impersonal. I would have liked to know more about his relationships with his family and how his adventures affected him. However, the  overall messages described in the book are important in understanding Ali’s overall legacy. 

I highly recommend “Muhammad Ali, The Untold Story: Painter, Poet & Prophet” for an accurate and unbiased account of a man, athlete, peacemaker, and diplomat whose actions made the world a better place.     

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09278NYXT/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Abe Books: https://www.abebooks.com/MUHAMMAD-ALI-Untold-Story-Painter-Poet/30976547522/bd?cm_mmc=ggl-_-US_Shopp_Trade-_-product_id=COM9781733429450NEW-_-keyword=&gclid=Cj0KCQiAys2MBhDOARIsAFf1D1cL9-EnIv2J2cfr20dAm5ADSCp6S05uTdxXcenZRrQOD1WlprHQEy8aAm5tEALw_wcB

Thrift Books: https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/muhammad-ali—the-untold-story-painter-poet–prophet/29004516/item/46175113/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAys2MBhDOARIsAFf1D1d8MoJ5N2piDmOW-5sulL7GmCSip30qeIA5LF4xxNFALbcDSG9-qjEaAvSbEALw_wcB#idiq=46175113&edition=60131166

About the Author: Rodney Hilton Brown, Esq., J.D. is a published author in the field of military history and has assembled important collections in the fields of Caribbean history, African American history, Marine Corps & military memorabilia. His prior publications include:  “American Polearms 1526 – 1865” (1967); 82 U.S. Select Research Bulletins on technical financing aspects of Federal low-income housing preservation; and his “H.M.S. Victory Collection” article was published in The Mariner’s Mirror, (2015).

Brown is the President and founder of The War Museum and The Museum of The Caribbean. Brown holds a Bachelors & Masters degrees from Trinity College and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Columbia Law School. He is also a frequent lecturer on historical subjects. 

© Copyright 2021 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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