David Remnick's excellent biography of Muhammad Ali, King of the World contains a truly stunning scene that sprung to mind during last week's inauguration. Before Ali's first big bout, a meeting with Sonny Liston, the press didn't know what to make of Ali's confidence and bombast. A reporter asked: "Cassius, all these things you're saying about Liston, do you really mean them? Do you really think you're going to beat this guy?"
Ali: I'm Christopher Columbus … I believe I'll win. I've never been in there with him, but I believe the world is round and they all believe the world is flat. Maybe I'll fall off the world at the horizon but I believe the world is round.1
I feel like there's a thread that runs directly from this statement to last Tuesday's inauguration, and it made me want to dig deeper into Ali, the myth-maker. So last night I watched a 1964 documentary, made by photographer William Klein, called Muhammad Ali: The Greatest; it's included in a recent Criterion Collection release called The Delirious Fictions of William Klein, which is cheap‑o on Amazon right now, actually.