This week´s book was Muhammad Ali: A memoir by Michael Parkinson. I was inspired to read this book as I went to a reading by Michael Parkinson in Covent Garden last week and had his book signed afterwards. When talking about Ali, Parkinson still had this sparkle in his eyes; the same sparkle people have in their eyes when they just experienced something extraordinary.
What it is about:
It is about the life story of Muhammad Ali framed by four interviews he gave to Michael Parkinson from 1971-1980.
Why it matters:
Muhammad Ali was probably the biggest sports personality of all times; getting a first-hand and personal insight from one of the best British talk show hosts about Ali´s life and their relationship is invaluable. It is interesting to see how both of their lives progress over the course of the four interviews and how their relationship deepens. The fourth and last interview is heart-breaking as Parkinson begs Ali to stop boxing as it could ruin his health. Ali didn´t stop and the rest is history.
“The real reason he fought for so long was that which him a great champion: his indomitable courage, unyielding resolve, unquenchable willpower. To expect him to take a careful approach to his life, to work solidly and cautiously towards a pension, is to misunderstand the soul of a prize-fighter.”
The book contains full transcripts of Parkinson´s interviews with Ali. Those interviews are used to frame chronologically the real life events around Ali.
Michael Parkinson interviewed hundreds of celebrities over five decades but the only one he wrote a book about is Ali as he thought he was the most “singular” of all of them.
What others said:
“Journalists are lucky in terms of the access we have to famous people. But only a few make you think: ‘That was a privilege – what an extraordinary person.'”
– Michael Parkinson being asked about his interviews with Ali, BBC –
Good life, good interviews, good overall read.
The journey continues.