Becoming Muhammad Ali

Publisher: Jacaranda Books

Before he was three-time world heavyweight boxing champion and hailed as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali was a kid called Cassius Clay; a fast talker with fast feet and big dreams.

Written mostly in verse, this is an insightful and inspiring retelling of Ali’s teenage years.

Growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1950s, Cassius’s childhood was filled with friends and family. Free time was spent learning card tricks, playing sports in the local park and watching boxing fights on a neighbour’s TV at weekends. But ‘Whites only’ signs and guards with guns prevent Cassius from going into many places around town, and he experiences racism daily. Determined to escape this world, he decides boxing is the best way out, and when, by change at aged twelve he meets trainer Joe Martin, he begins work to make his dream a reality – though there’s no doubt in his mind that he will become the greatest.

Kwame Alexander’s writing brilliantly reflects Ali’s unique voice, while James Patterson’s sections, telling the story from Cassius’s best friend Lucky’s point of view, adds great context and perspective. Covering themes of self-belief and determination, the story also highlights Ali’s role in the fight for black rights.

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