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.
Never has the phrase “gone but not forgotten” been more fitting than when describing the late, great Muhammad Ali. The outpouring of love and admiration for the GOAT Muhammad Ali since his passing through tributes and exhibitions continues with no end in sight.Many of them are unique and one of a kind just like the champ himself. Such as the one I discussed in my last “More On Ali” post that is being done in June by his hometown minor league baseball team. One that took place more recently was unique in that it paid homage to Ali’s work as an artist, with his boxing and activist exploits in more of a supporting role. GOAT (GREATEST OF ALL TIME): A Tribute to Muhammad Ali was held at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York from January 5th to February 4 of this year. Unlike most other tributes to Ali, this group exhibition was centered around Ali’s artistic side rather than his better known athletic and activist accomplishments. Ali’s lesser known highly creative side included written and spoken word poetry, stage and screen acting, and drawing. The centerpiece of this group exhibition was a series of rare ink on paper works by Ali in his final years.Exhibited alongside the Ali pieces were works by Andy Warhol and numerous other contemporary artists including Aaron Johnson, Alfred Steiner, Dapper Bruce Lafitte, Hilary Pecis, Kris Kuksi, Libby Black, Mark Mulroney, Michael Kagan, Tony Curanaj, Wayne White, and a wallpaper installation from Brooklyn based Flavor Paper. A series of five ink drawings of boxing rings by Ali were exhibited accompanied by the works from the supporting artists, many of which were produced specifically for this exhibition. Many of the contributing artists created their works for this exhibit based on iconic photos from Ali fights (like an action exchange from the “Thrilla In Manila” and Ali towering over Liston after knocking him out in their second fight) or through adaptation of memorable Ali quotes like “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and “I shook up the world!” Some expressed themselves through paint and some through sculpture. Flavor Paper’s new designed wallpaper featured Andy Warhol’s Muhammad Ali. It was on displayed along with an unpublished print of Ali’s fist from Warhol’s Muhammad Ali portfolio. A great tribute to “The Greatest” by some great artists.