Ali floats like a butterfly to Frankfurt Book Fair
October 10, 2003
FRANKFURT, Germany — The ringside crowd was buzzing a full hour before the champ was to appear.
TV cameramen stood by their tripods. Still photographers leaned their elbows on the ring apron. Inside the ring, a giant book sat on a stool. Spotlights shone on it.
The champ still packs ’em in.
“GOAT — A Tribute to Muhammad Ali,” an 800-page picture book about Muhammad Ali, was unveiled Thursday afternoon at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The gold-edged book measures 20 inches by 20 inches, is 6 inches thick and weighs 75 pounds. The price: 3,000 euros.
By itself, “GOAT,” which stands for “greatest of all time,” might have been the star of the book fair. But it took a backseat to the biggest star of all.
Ali and his entourage arrived one hour behind schedule and paraded into a makeshift boxing ring set up inside Building 4 at the Frankfurt fairgrounds. By the time the champ arrived, the crush of photographers and gawkers was 20 rows deep.
Ali, 61, entered the ring with his wife, Lonnie; his long-time photographer and confidant Howard Bingham; former trainer Angelo Dundee; and publisher Benedikt Taschen.
The picture book details Ali’s life from his days as a Golden Gloves champion from Louisville, Ky., to his gold-medal performance in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, to his three heavyweight championships and legendary ring battles with Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman.
There is a giant exhibit dedicated to “GOAT” at the book fair. It includes magazine stories, videos and hundreds of photos.
The book fair is at the Frankfurt fairgrounds and is open to the public Friday through Monday. In past years, the fair has been for window-shopping only. But this year for the first time the books will be on sale to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.
More than 6,600 exhibitors from 102 countries are presenting books, calendars, post cards and other goods found at a Barnes and Noble.
(Click here for Stars and Stripes stories and photos from a 1975 appearance by Muhammad Ali at the Frankfurt Book Fair.)