Published by
Liveright/Norton (2015-11)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language


by Miller, Davis

The single most intimate look at Muhammad Ali’s life after boxing, told through the story of an unexpected friendship.

IOn Easter weekend 1988, then struggling writer and movie store clerk Davis Miller drove to Muhammad Ali's mother's modest house in Louisville, knocked on the front door, and waited for an answer. It had been over two decades since he’d first glimpsed The Champ on a black-and-white television?when Miller was an eleven-year-old boy, shattered by the unexpected loss of his mother?and he felt the time had come for him to personally thank the man whose fearlessness, grace, and tenacity gave him the power to overcome a near-paralyzing depression. When the door finally opened, Miller would not only get to meet his “spiritual constant” but also begin a surprising and tender new friendship that would forever transform his life.

Today, more than twenty-five years later, the two still share an uncommon bond, the sort that can be fashioned only in serendipitous ways and fortified through shared experiences. Miller now draws from those remarkable moments to give us a quietly startling portrait of a great man physically ravaged but spiritually young. Beginning with a series of three interconnected anecdotes about Miller's first meeting with the champ?which formed the basis of "My Dinner with Ali," a legendary piece of sports journalism that was anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century?Approaching Ali continues as a historic tribute, composed of linked vignettes spread out over decades, that is unlike anything else that has been written about one of the world's most famous and loved men.

As readers will discover in these pages, Miller is the Everyman, Ali the Superman in physical decline. Commingled together, the two voices form the all-time most intimate portrait of Ali's day-by-day life in his postboxing career. Through Miller’s eyes, we witness the aging and ailing Ali playing mischievous tricks on unsuspecting guests, performing sleight of hand for any willing audience, and walking over ten miles each day to enjoy an ice cream sundae and talk with strangers. Miller goes on to reveal a side of the boxing legend we never knew was there, whether it be Ali handing out hundred-dollar bills at a Los Angeles bus stop, showing a group of inner-city children the ocean for the very first time, or unexpectedly cracking jokes with the distinctly insightful words he is still able to summon.

Following in the grand contemporary literary tradition of writers such as Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Nick Hornby, Miller gives us a series of extraordinary insights into a man that he has been approaching nearly his entire life. The result is both a new introduction to the human side of a boxing legend as well as a loving and beautifully written reclamation of Muhammad Ali’s life after the ring.

Davis Miller's work has been published in many of the leading national magazines, including Men's Journal, GQ, and Esquire, among others. He is the internationally best-selling author of two previous books, including The Tao of Bruce Lee, and is co-librettist of the acclaimed chamber opera Approaching Ali, which is based on his story "My Dinner with Ali.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


This lively, accessible book is recommended for science enthusiasts interested in origin of life issues and the history of science. Martin Brady

Review: Bookpage

In clear, observant prose, Miller details how the most outspoken and graceful heavyweight of all time now struggles to knot a tie or make himself understood. Yet in the wreck of ‘the black Superman,’ Miller discovers and celebrates a spiritual Ali, a bodhisattva molded by the unlikely path of boxing and the Nation of Islam…. [Miller’s] engagement and journalistic integrity provide a unique perspective on a man he portrays as a hero for the world.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Each of Mr. Miller's Muhammad Ali tales is lyrical, important, and rigorously humanizing. There is music and truth in each sentence he writes. I can think of no higher praise for a writer or his work.

Quote: Maya Angelou, Author

I don't know of a better or more human biography of an iconic American than Davis Miller's magnificent portrait of Muhammad Ali. Approaching Ali is the best book about friendship I've read in years. Every sentence in the book is, in one way or another, revelatory, profound, sublime, graceful, naked, true, tender, and uncompromising. Davis is a genuinely great writer.

Quote: Howard Frank Mosher

From Norman Mailer to George Plimpton to Hunter S. Thompson to Tom Wolfe, Muhammad Ali has inspired some of the best work by America’s best writers. But no one has written about him as well as Davis Miller. Approaching Ali is a book for the ages, a book to be treasured.

Quote: Matthew Polly, Author

Not like anything else that I have read. What a strange encounter between this extraordinary man and his gifted troubadour. One has the feeling of absolute and radiant verisimilitude, which is exactly what one requires.

Quote: Donald Hall, former poet laureate of the United States

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