Jazz magazine published “The Greatest Rises” in October of that year.
“Ali is a man whose power and force of character people saw from a very early age,” said Siddhartha Dhar, whose book chronicles the many highs and lows of the greatest boxer to ever live. “When he announced in public that he was gonna turn pro, he said: ‘I’m gonna be the heavyweight champion of the world.’ And he didn’t say, ‘I’m gonna be best boxer, best athlete.’ No. He said: ‘I’m gonna be world heavyweight champion.’ In 1967 he defeated Sonny Liston, which made him the champion of the world.”
Ali fanatics will find plenty to collect in the 128-page book from illustrator Stefan Hartmann and writer James Franco. The model and creator of the 13th Michael Jackson pop opera, Hartmann hopes that Ali’s story will resonate with current generation.
“Here we have an African-American man going up against great European tradition and it was very impressive,” Hartmann said. “And this kind of quest has relevance and even today it’s relevant. Especially today.”
At one point, Ali went as far as helping to develop the wrestling franchise Raw in an effort to link it with boxing. In the graphic novel, fans find out all about Ali’s eagerness to start a wrestling company. (Feeling he had more or less unfinished business in boxing, Ali reportedly fired the Raw owner; the man, however, countered with his own comeback).
“In retrospect, this would be an amazing story,” Hartmann said. “Let’s stop the industry as we know it today. I think Ali gave us some great business ideas.”