Facing Ali

Publisher: Vintage Canada
They won, they lost, they were scorned or cheered, but they got in the ring with the champ, and every fighter who got into the ring with Muhammad Ali shone brighter as a result. No life or career could be the same afterwards. Facing Ali is the an engaging portrait of this boxing phenomenon as told by 15 of his opponents—an incredible cross-section that reveals Ali as never before.



Several years back, a former champion of the world began his comeback in humble surroundings. He certainly wasn’t a great fighter -- more a creation of promotional and managerial smarts than anything else -- but still, he’d known better places than Lulu’s, once, in...
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A Globe and Mail Best Book 
A Sports Illustrated Book of the Year

“Mandatory reading, for any age: Stephen Brunt’s latest book, Facing Ali, is an eloquent and elegant journey through the lives of those who fought Muhammad Ali.” Toronto Sun

“Stephen Brunt, besides being one of the best sportswriters out there, is absolutely at the top of his game when it comes to boxing…. For a deadly dose of Ali, his times, his travails, Facing Ali is a KO.” The Hamilton Spectator

“Stephen Brunt has found a refreshing and revealing entrance into the storehouse of myth and lore that has grown up around The Champ. In examining the stories of 15 fighters who traded punches with the former Cassius Clay, Brunt goes the distance in a brand new direction, scoring a unanimous decision.” The Toronto Star

“A fascinating, well-researched and sometimes deeply sad book. You needn’t be a boxing nut to enjoy this rogue’s gallery…. Facing Ali offers some swift, hard jabs by one of our country’s best sportswriters, one who knows boxing and, more importantly, the frailty that goes with human pride. Stephen Brunt takes us for a rare and sometimes painful sit in the loser’s corner, where, as all observers of tragedy know, the most revealing stories take place.” Andrew Pyper, Ottawa Citizen

“By interviewing 15 prize fighters who entered the ring against Muhammad Ali, Brunt illuminates how these people were affected, and paints a composite portrait of the man at the centre of it all.” The Globe and Mail

“The real appeal of this book…is in learning how these men have coped with life’s travails outside the squared circle…. Brunt reveals a deep respect for the men who ply the bruising trade of prizefighting…. It tolls a 10-count over the hoary stereotype of boxers as crude, one-dimensional louts. It is a winner.” The Gazette (Montreal)

“Facing Ali is rich in boxing lore and is often laugh-out-loud funny…. A work of wit and insight. It goes the distance.” The Vancouver Sun

"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." Library Journal

"Between the perspectives on Ali and the witty, elegant retelling of the 15 fighters' lives, this is a must for boxing fans." Booklist, starred review

"Brunt provides penetrating and honest profiles of 15 fighters from around the world who faced Muhammad Ali, and he produces a book that should become one of the essential works for understanding the legendary fighter. Brunt is amazingly sensitive to and respectful of each fighter's own words, no matter how factually wrong or self-serving they might be." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A compelling read.... As with Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe, barely a year can now go by without a new biography of the boxer Muhammed Ali. Thankfully, Canadian journalist Stephen Brunt comes at the subject from a new angle, providing pen portraits and testimonies from 15 of the professionals who fought him." Sunday Telegraph