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Facing Ali: 15 Fighters / 15 Stories

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"Brunt does an excellent job of bringing his subjects out of the shadow of the Greatest, recounting their often poignant tales of life before and after their dates with the champ. In the end, of course,
we learn more about Ali. What stands out is their almost unanimous expression of affection for Ali. A worthy addition to any boxing
collection." -Library Journal
Muhammad Ali
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Lyons Press (first published October 8th 2002)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cautionary tale about the fight game. Though it is not a tale, but true accounts of the lives of 15 fighters that at some point had faced Muhammad Ali in the ring. So make that 16 fighters since you include Ali himself. The fight game is not glamorous and also not like watching an underdog story like "Rocky" -- but more like watching "Raging Bull" or "Champion." The majority of the fighters in the book had major health issues, be it memory, physical or both. Most had major financial issues bei ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Facing Ali is more or less a collection of 15 mini biographies of 15 Muhammad Ali opponents with an emphasis on their fights with Ali. You have some of the great fighters that Ali squared off with but also some of the no hopers and opponents that he faced also. It starts with Tunny Hunsaker, who he fought in his pro debut and ends with Larry Holmes who he fought in his second to last fight. Some of these guys ended up in not the best shape financially or neurologicly but others seem to be doing ...more
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boxing, biography
An interesting approach to the Greatest, interviewing a cross-section of his opponents.

The book is more interesting for the biographical snapshots of these (mostly unknown) opponents than for the insights it provides about Ali. Boxers as a group are not known for their penetrating insight, and the author/interviewer does little to coax them into meaningful reveries.

An interesting B-list read on the Sweet Science.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
Boxing makes for great writing. The characters are fascinating. (There's no such thing as a boring boxer.) The settings are often grand or grim, but never forgettable. And there's always violence. Whenever you're trying to make a story memorable, it helps to have violence.

Sure, boxing writing attracts its share of hacks and has its cliches. But it's one of the few times in sports (hell, in human experience) where the hyperbole is often merited. A punch to the face or liver is unsubtle -- so is t
Allan Heron
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book of essays with the focus on a boxer who faced Ali. The book is less about the individual contests, but on the influence that fight has had on their lives.

For pretty much all of them, their fight with Ali has become the defining event in their career and their lives.

Many, in fact most, are pleased that this is the case. Most notably George Foreman whose own career story is fascinating and worthy of further study.

At the other end of the scale is Joe Frazier. Admittedly, Joe prob
Douglas Graney
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting angles on some of Ali’s fights. The more obscure guys have good stories.
What would it have been like to stand across the ring from one of the greatest fighters of the twentieth century? How does fighting a legend change or influence a person? Those questions are at the heart of Brunt's Facing Ali, which traces Ali's career not through the man himself, but through the men he fought.

Brunt begins chronologically, starting with Ali's first professional opponent, and moving through until he comes to Larry Holmes, the man who beat Ali in Ali's final night in the ring.

Robert S
"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."
- Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali's shadow has loomed over boxing since the first time he stepped into the ring. No other individual has made more of an impact on the sweet science in the last seventy years than the man who called himself the greatest. Ali wasn't just legendary in the ri
Paul Colver
I read the first 3 chapters and its a readable interesting book. Chapter 3 is on George Chavulo began well but later goes into Chavulo's family problems. to what end? Seemed far removed from what the author says in the preface he intends to do. I almost quit at this point but the remainder of the book was engrossing and filled with insight about boxing, Ali and the fighters included who fought him.
Great first chapter on Tunney Hunsaker Ali's first fight and the sweet relationship that developed
Stephen Brunt is hands down, Canada's best sports writer. True, that's a bit like being the most handsome guy in AC/DC. But let's give the man his dues.

This is an interesting read, looking at some of the lesser lights/also rans who took on The Champ, Muhammad Ali. These include Jurgen Blin, Joe Bugner and of course, The Bayonne Bleeder Chuck Wepner, whose life story inspired (*cough*) Stallone. For an interesting look at the latter and the associated lawsuit against Sly, ESPN did a documentary
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this one a perfect 5 star rating largely because I really enjoyed the premise of the book — 15 different perspectives on Ali all from people with first-hand experience against him. Each perspective is well-paced ... I didn't feel any of them dragged on, and they each had unique stories to share. Fantastic read.

My two takeaways ... Celebrating Ali as the GOAT is more marketing than anything. Sure he won some famous fights, but his war stance/name change left him fighting a bunch of to
Apr 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Boxing Fans & Ali Fans
I have to say that this book was one of the best books I could have ever read. I loved the way it was formatted but what it did for me was get me back into reading books. I had read a good number of books and then all of a sudden stopped. Then my roommate picked me up this book for X-mas and I pounded thru it before January 1st. I was back on my reading bing.

This book has a cool format as it is broken into 15 different chapters and talks about 15 different opponents that Ali faced in his storie
Teena in Toronto
My husband read this book last month and thought I would enjoy it ... and I did.

I had only heard of about five of the fifteen boxers but it was still interesting to read their stories ... where they came from and where they are now. Some knew going in they would get beat and did it for the paycheque.
Kym Robinson
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boxing
This book covers 15 of Muhammad Ali's opponents over the varying stages of his career. The book seeks to give a voice to some of those who were over shadowed by the Legendary Ali.

It is a good read and has some fun fight fan friendly anecdotes. This is a book that is especially appreciated in conjunction to watching the fights featured within.

69 %
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting take on Ali's career because the focus was on his opponents rather than Ali himself. And whilst I've read many great books on Ali and already knew what some of his high profile opponents thought of him, this book contained background information and insight into and from some of the journeymen who are just a footnote in history and that is what I liked. ...more
Dec 30, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if this is any good. But I said I'd take up a sport, and Dustin's got the football covered, and baseball dies with that whole steroid thingy for me. Oh and I like violence... so boxing it is... ...more
Great read--interviews with 15 boxers who fought Ali, tomata-cans to other champions. You get wonderful insight into the various men, fascinating, introspective looks by each about their lives Fun read for any boxing fan, especially fans of Ali.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was pretty good not amazing but good.
J. Gray
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will tell you more about his, yours, and our history than you might remember.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
the lance armstrong of boxing - just in a league of his own
Gary L. Strike
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Learned a lot about Ali and his opponents.
David Horney
interesting read. lots of different views/opinions on mr ali.
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Years ago, my kids gave me this book as a Fathers Day gift. It is still one of my favorite reads. Of course it comes to mind again as I ponder the loss of this great man.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Loved this new and interesting look into the life of one of my favorite heros.
Jason Millar
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was very incitement and well written by a man who knows his sport.
Ron Fitzwater
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love the golden age of boxing, and especially if you love the Champ. You must read this book.
Sheri Robinson
15 stories about 15 fighters who went head to head with Ali. A good read for fighting fans.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
15 rounds, 15 magazine length chapters about 15 boxers who faced Muhammed Ali at various points in his career. How it, and the fight game, affected them before, during and after.
James Evans
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, 2018
A real knockout of a book for all Ali fans.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any fan of Ali should read this. The accounts coming from the other side of Ali's gloves are gripping and show a side we haven't considered previously. This is a much overlooked sports title. ...more
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