Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Victory Came When He Didn’t Fight

Muhammad Ali was brutal in the ring. It’s painful to watch his early matches with Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, and Ernie Terrell, which seem not at all like contests of equals but exercises in punishment and retribution verging on torture. Ali regarded these foes as not his boxing rivals so much as traitors to the cause of black freedom. Terrell, his former sparring partner, snidely kept referring to Ali by his birth name, Cassius Clay, in the build-up to their 1967 fight, an affront to...

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