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From them we learn not just that the odds are there to be upset, but that the struggle can be its own reward.Our weaknesses, too, are mirrored in sudden and calamitous collapses of mind or body on the track or the pitch.As David Remnick's fine book, King of the World, reminded us this year, the brash-mouthed young Cassius Clay was initially a figure greeted with dismay and distaste even by those who were looking for a figurehead for the black consciousness movement in the febrile atmosphere of the early Sixties.Writing in 1963 about Sonny Liston, the reigning world heavyweight champion, as the awesome embodiment of the white race's worst nightmares, the black poet and activist Le Roi Jones declared: "There is no white man in the world who wants to fight Sonny Liston (though Cassius Clay has come from the Special Products Division of Madison Avenue to see what he can do)." A few months later, after Ali had taken Liston's title, Jones was forced to revise his view.It followed ‘Keep The Village Alive’ which went straight to No.1 when it was released in 2015 and became their sixth chart-topper after ‘Performance And Cocktails’ (1999), ‘Just Enough Education To Perform’ (2001) ‘You Gotta Go There To Come Back’ (2003), ‘Language. Why choose, as the greatest sporting figure of the 20th century, a representative of a discipline that its most eloquent spokesmen find hard to defend, faced with medical evidence which shows even a moderate tap forcing the brain to collide with the bony lining of the cranium like blancmange dashed against a coral reef?Major accompanied this steady stream of digital singles with regular live appearances across London.The songs are now available together as the collection, A Song for Every Moon.
He first received widespread attention in 2016, with his new song every month for a year, a project that extended into 2017."Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong," Ali told a reporter, and in those nine simple words he had linked himself with a worldwide shift in the balance of society.When he was stripped of his titles by the boxing authorities, it was the signal that he had made common cause with anti-establishment movements around the world.Of the 99 other distinguished names on our list, perhaps only Pele, the runner- up, could make the beginnings of a similar claim, on account of his pre- eminence within the game played by the poor people of the world, as well as by virtue of his own qualities as a man.But, in truth, he and the other 98 belong to the world of sport. Sport is entertainment for participant and spectator alike.