I recently wrote a post touting Serina Williams as the greatest female tennis player of all-times. I acknowledged there were arguments that could be made for Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, and Martina Navratilova. But I believed Serina had done enough to separate herself from the others. When it comes to the men however, I don’t believe a clear standout exists. Therefore, I haven’t as of yet written a piece on the all-time greatest male tennis player. I believe there can be legitimate cases made for a number of men including Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and even Novak Djokovic. The wide variety of supporting arguments include number of Grand Slam wins, quality of competition, doubles participation, type of equipment used, and longevity just to name a few. But after this past Sunday, there can be no doubt or argument about it, Raphael Nadal is the king of the clay. By winning his unprecedented tenth French Open title, Raphael Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all-times. No one in tennis has dominated one surface the way “Rafa” has owned the clay over the course of his career. His numbers are indisputable and unprecedented. Over thirteen years to date, his numbers are incredible: 10 French Open titles, 52 singles titles, a .916 win %, a 100-2 record in 5 set matches, only taken to 5 sets twice in French Open matches, never lost a French Open final. He has also dominated the clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Barcelona that lead up to the French Open with record numbers of wins in them as well. After a couple of down years mainly due to nagging injuries, many had written Nadal off as a Grand Slam threat, even in the French. But after his totally dominating play with no sets lost in the tournament, and only 6 games dropped in his three set sweep of the final, the future looks bright once again for Nadal. Now alone in 2nd place behind only Federer (17) with 15 total Grand Slam titles overall, Nadal is in the thick of the discussion for overall greatest of all-times. But without a doubt, for all of the above and more, Raphael “Rafa” Nadal is the greatest clay court tennis player of all-times.
As we arrive at the first anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Of All-Time, the honors and tributes to Muhammad Ali continue to come in with no end in sight. In late April he was honored, along with tennis legend Serena Williams at the annual Jesse Owens International Athlete Trophy awards given to sports legends who exemplify the ideals embodied by Olympian and humanitarian Jesse Owens: integrity, perseverance and service. Filmmaker Spike Lee had the honor of presenting some members of Ali’s family with the Jesse Owens Global Peace Award recognizing the late boxing legend’s commitment to peace and justice outside the ring. Another of the many new books on Ali’s life coming out focuses on the years during Ali’s battle with U.S. government over his refusal of military induction. The book is entitled “Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs The United States of America, 1966-1971” and was written by Leigh Montville. Finally, what is perhaps the most unique of the latest stories honoring Ali is the one written by Tom Junod that will appear in the June 12th World Fame issue of ESPN The Magazine entitle “The Greatest, At Rest.” The article tells the story of the meticulous and detailed planning of Muhammad Ali’s funeral by Ali himself along with his wife, Lonnie, that began years before his passing. It details her determined efforts to see his vision carried out despite the difficulties presented by the clash at times between his religious beliefs and his world-wide celebrity. It also details the numerous carefully selected individuals entrusted with the various aspects of Ali’s desired funeral services and their solemn determination to carry out their duties. This is a most extraordinary behind the scenes look. It is a must read for any Ali fan and a must add for any collector of Ali memorabilia.
As discussed in my last post updating my up and down adventures in book marketing, I was looking forward to a couple of fantastic upcoming opportunities to get more exposure for my book “Odes On Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest.” I completed the video testimonial for my self-publisher BookFuel. I thought it came out great for a first time attempt and they expressed that same sentiment. I must say that trying to cover all of the information asked for and do so in a one minute or less time frame without appearing rushed was definitely a challenge. I’m anxious to see how they utilize it. And I’m looking forward to checking out the marketing program they gave me access to as compensation for making the video. Hopefully, it’ll provide some fresh marketing ideas and angles to further boost exposure and book sales. I also finalized reserving representation for ODES ON ALI by the folks at Earthshine Media Group for the upcoming BOOK EXPO and BOOK CON in New York City the first week of June. I can’t wait to see what kind of exposure and interest comes from that big event. And finally, I just finalized securing a book cover ad in the online events program being produced for the upcoming Dublin Writer’s Conference being held in Ireland in June. The purchased package also includes Facebook and twitter exposure as well. As I said in my last marketing post, sales have been a little sluggish so far this year so I’m hoping all of this exposure will help boost reader interest and book sales. Only time will tell. In the meantime, as always, onward and upward as I try to maintain marketing efforts for this book while trying to write the next one.
As the first anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing approaches, the tributes to the “Greatest of All-Times” continue to roll on with no end in sight. The volume and variety of these tributes clearly demonstrate the impact and affect Ali’s life had on humanity. And with the current and upcoming contributions planned by filmmakers, the memory of Ali will remain in the spotlight not only now but for years to come. In January, Michael Mann released a new version of his 2001 Ali film, starring Will Smith, on DVD. The new version added footage to existing scenes and cut others to keep the film at comparable length. The added footage mainly strengthened political elements of the film. Mann had previously released a director’s cut several years ago. The original version was also re-released in theaters the weekend following Ali’s passing. A new film covering a less publicized part of Ali’s career was also debuted earlier this year. “The Last Punch” made its debut at the Richmond Film Festival. It was the latest project of film director and Virginia State University administrator Jesse Vaughn. The 28-time Emmy award winner was an Ali fan growing up and jumped at the chance to tell this lesser known story on Ali’s final fight versus Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas. The movie is based on the book of the same title written by James Cornelius who also served as a producer on the film. Cornelius, a self-described “Ali groupie” and hustler, had become part of the Ali entourage during that time. Not wanting to go out on the memory of his loss to Larry Holmes, Ali wanted one more fight. None of the top promoters would touch the fight. They wanted Ali to stay retired. Cornelius, with no previous experience, convinced Ali to let him promote the “Drama in the Bahamas” against Berbick. The story revolves around Cornelius’ promotional efforts while he was also on the run from the FBI for embezzlement charges from his previous job. At least two other major production efforts are in the works to join the treasure trove of existing Ali film tributes. HBO announced a multi-part Ali documentary from director Antoine Fuqua of “Training Day” and “The Magnificent Seven” fame. Fuqua is partnering up with Lebron James on the currently untitled project. Both James and Fuqua have noted the impact Ali had on their lives. The film has already begun production and will premiere on HBO though no air date has been announced as of yet. The Ali story will also be getting the Ken Burns’ treatment as Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and David McMahon are producing and directing a documentary for PBS on Ali. Production on the 2 part, 4 hour project began in early 2016. The anticipated date for premiering the documentary is in 2021. In a statement Sarah Burns stated in part, “We’re eager to get beyond the archetypes and examine who and what influenced his choices, and how he maintained the courage of his convictions when those choices seemed to go against the tide.” The three previously collaborated on the 2013 documentary “The Central Park Five” and the more recent 2 part, 4 hour, documentary on baseball’s Jackie Robinson. This wide variety of film projects give all of us Ali fans plenty to check out now and look forward to over the next several years. I look forward to seeing them all.
I have recently entered in to an agreement with Earthshine Media Group to market my book ODES ON ALI : A Tribute to the Greatest at the BOOKEXPO & BOOKCON 2017 in New York City Thur. June 1 – June 4 at the Javits Center. With over 100,000 international visitors -professionals and fans – attending during the four day event it should generate great exposure that will hopefully increase interest and book sales. In addition, I have been asked by my self-publishing company, BookFuel, to create a short video to talk about my self-publishing experience which would provide additional exposure over their social media sites. The first quarter of 2017 was a little slow due to continued recovery from my accident and a couple of potentially promising marketing opportunities never panning out. But with these new avenues of exposure and my continuing efforts on social media I look forward to getting ODES ON ALI into the hands of more readers. As always, onward and upward.