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Race, National Identity, and Responses to Muhammad Ali in 1960s Britain / Martin Johnes

The International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume: 36, Issue: 9-10, Pages: 812 - 831

Swansea University Author: Martin Johnes

Abstract

Muhammad Ali fought in the UK three times in the 1960s, each time to the accompaniment of significant media coverage that made him into a public figure. On his first fight in 1963, his unusual personality both delighted and reviled. Many of the criticisms were rooted in a dislike of American culture...

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Published in: The International Journal of the History of Sport
ISBN: 0952-3367
ISSN: 0952-3367 1743-9035
Published: Informa UK Limited 2019
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa52310
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Abstract: Muhammad Ali fought in the UK three times in the 1960s, each time to the accompaniment of significant media coverage that made him into a public figure. On his first fight in 1963, his unusual personality both delighted and reviled. Many of the criticisms were rooted in a dislike of American culture but beneath them were also racial stereotypes that encouraged a view of him as brash and immature. By his second and third fights in 1966, he was a deeply controversial figure in the USA because of his conversion to Islam and opposition to the Vietnam War. Yet neither issue had the same significance in the UK and his British fan base grew, despite the way he also reminded some of the danger that British racial tensions might escalate in the way they had in America. Ali was also an inspiration to Britons of colour and those who believed in the need for radical challenges to the world’s problems. As such, he is an example of how ideas, fears and hopes around race relations were transnational and the need for its British historians to ensure their accounts are de-domesticised.
Keywords: Race, national identity, racism, boxing, 1960s, Britishness, immigration
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 9-10
Start Page: 812
End Page: 831