No other subject is, for the writer, so intensely personal as boxing. To write about boxing is to write about oneself — however elliptically, and unintentionally. And to write about boxing is to be forced to contemplate not only boxing, but the perimeters of civilization — what it is, or should be, to be “human.”
That’s Joyce Carol Oates, in the preface to her book On Boxing. Replace ‘write’ with ‘read’, and it sums up the reason I’ve been obsessed with boxing literature since my teens. What follows is a somewhat ordered reading list on Ali, as accompaniment to a tribute that will be published on Rediff Monday.