Odes on Ali

A Tribute to the Greatest

Non-Fiction - Sports
252 Pages
Reviewed on 01/12/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Author David A. Bates has been an avid Ali fan for as long as he can recall. From his very first memory of seeing the image of the brash young boxer Cassius Clay on his family's black and white television he was hooked. He has spent a lifetime following the boxing great's exploits both in and out of the ring and collecting tons of Ali memorabilia along the way. He penned his first poetic account after watching Ali's shocking victory over George Foreman on a live closed circuit broadcast. Well received by all who read it then, eventually it became the initial seed of inspiration for this book that was four decades in the making. Mr. Bates resides in South Florida.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest is a collection of sports poetry written by David A. Bates. Bates introduces his work with an autobiographical account of his personal recollections of Ali's bouts as well as what he calls Ali's "pre-fight antics", and he shows why Ali should be considered, in many ways, the first of the rappers. He also discusses Ali's conversion to Islam and the efforts made by the draft board to induct him into the military despite his refusal to do so based upon his religious beliefs. After this introduction, Bates presents his collection of odes which cover every one of Ali's bouts in chronological order. Each poem is composed of four-line stanzas with the second and fourth lines having rhyming ends. The final poem sums up Ali's career and subsequent public service.

David A. Bates' collection of sports poetry, Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest, may be viewed with some initial skepticism by those readers who love sports writing, but I'm hoping they can suspend their disbelief just long enough to read Bates' brilliant introduction and one single poem. I’m convinced that one poem will render them as incapable of not continuing to read this most amazing recreation of Ali's career as if they had been rendered powerless by a tap from the legendary champ himself. These poems kept me spellbound as I followed Ali's progress from those initial bouts to winning and regaining his hard-earned title and through to his retirement. There's drama, action and suspense in every line as Bates' careful choices of words and rigorous adherence to the structure of his poems give each line power and real, you-are-there authenticity.

I had a marvelous time reading Odes on Ali and literally could not stop smiling the whole way through. While I was familiar with many of Ali’s major bouts, there was still so much to learn, so many bouts that I hadn't known about. These poems put the reader right there in the ring, watching the action as closely as if they were in front row seats. Yes, I was a bit skeptical when I saw the format of this work, but that introduction and first poem had me hooked, and I'm so glad they did. Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest is an original and most impressive book of sports writing and an outstanding collection of poetry all at once. It's most highly recommended.

Deborah Lloyd

There are many ways to approach a biographical account of a legendary figure. David A. Bates has created a unique retelling of the life of Muhammad Ali in his work, Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest. The author begins his introductory chapter with Muhammad Ali’s most famous oration, “Floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee….” He then summarizes Ali’s life, from his many boxing triumphs and failures, to his conversion to Islam and changing his name, to his legal battles, to the many humanitarian works in his later years. How Ali lived with Parkinson’s Disease epitomizes the ideal way to live with a debilitating disease. Mr. Bates honors him by writing in Ali’s own famous style, poetry form. Each chapter describes a boxing event during Ali’s career, with the final achievement of being a three-time heavyweight champion.

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest by David A. Bates is not a book to read in one sitting; rather, the richness within each poem needs to be absorbed and savored. Although each poem is relatively short and succinct, there are many layers of detail and meaning in each one. There is action and drama packed into each poem; even the energy of each work mimics the life of Ali. While the main focus concerns a particular fight, the essence of each poem extends well behind what happened in the ring. A reader will develop a better understanding of the character, personality, and overall strength (well beyond the physical strength) of Muhammad Ali. This book provides extraordinary insight into The Greatest.

Arya Fomonyuy

Odes on Ali by David A. Bates is a lyrical rendition of the exploits of Muhammad Ali, a beautiful story of a hero in verse, and fans of Ali will be enthralled by this lovely and gorgeous collection of poems. But who doesn’t like Ali? Barely a few months after his passing into eternity, the publication of this collection is timely and prodigious, and it is a work that will validate the accomplishments of Muhammad Ali and reiterate his love for poetry, his courage in the boxing ring, his rich humanity, and, above all, his very successful boxing career. But beneath these lines that capture Ali’s spirit in all of his fights, readers will be introduced to another dimension of the man they have adored on stage as a fighter; his values and humanity.

David A. Bates’ Odes on Ali are very poetic, following a fast rhythm with beautiful and musical rhymes. The format, composed of short phrases and sentences, is reminiscent of Ali’s poetic style, and mingled with rare witticism that reflects the soul and language of the hero himself; readers will reconnect with Muhammad Ali in these lines. Ali didn’t just fight, he talked a lot, and he talked a lot of sense, too. In these poetic utterances, the author captures the spirit of Ali the poet and warrior to underscore powerful life lessons that readers will find edifying. Here is one beautiful stanza that will point readers to the secret of Ali’s success:

His listlessness left behind—
Training hard and talking back.
His journey to the title
Was totally back on track….

Odes on Ali reads like delightful music, a celebration of a man who has left visible imprints on human civilization, and who has written his name indelibly on the sporting arena. It’s a work that will appeal to musicians, fans of Muhammad Ali, and poetry lovers.

Ruffina Oserio

Muhammad Ali’s fans and adversaries have known him to be a fighter in a variety of ways. His prowess, confidence, skill, and outspoken nature weren’t a thing alone of the boxing ring. He was poetic in the way he thought and in the way he fought, and one could imagine a beautiful romance of the boxing ring. It isn’t yet a year since Ali died, and his memory is still fresh in the hearts of millions of fans, and here comes a powerful tribute to a fighter and in a language he loved, a collection of poems rich in imagery, language, and a lyricism that is rare. Ali would have loved to read his work in poetic style. He who once said: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see,” would be thrilled by rhyming verses that retell his exploits before, during, and after his fights. Odes on Ali by David A. Bates faithfully reflects the fighting spirit and wisdom of the heroic boxer.

Apart from his rare gift for poetry and rhyme, David A. Bates joins the ranks of millions of fans of Muhammad Ali. A lot has been written about Ali, but this is the first work of poetry that powerfully translates his work in a language he loved most. The poetry is replete with symbolism and literary styles that readers will find interesting. I was enthralled by the rhythm and the rhymes. At times, readers of poetry can detect when a rhyme is forced, but it seems to come just so naturally to the author of Odes on Ali. The diction is very accessible and readers will discover many inspiring and witty lines to accompany them in the day-to-day life journey. As I read the poems, I couldn’t help but think about them on the lips of a good rapper or hip hop artist. A treasure trove for fans of Ali.

Sefina Hawke

Odes on Ali (A Tribute to the Greatest) by David A. Bates follows boxer Muhammad Ali through his pre-fight antics, conversion to Islam, how his religious beliefs affected his life, his matches in order, and his career. The poems are all created using four-line stanzas. Odes on Ali takes the reader on a poetic journey through Muhammad Ali’s life as a boxer and through his career and public service. This will appeal to poetry lovers who are fans of Muhammad Ali.

Odes on Ali (A Tribute to the Greatest) by David A. Bates is an accurate portrayal of Muhammad Ali’s life, choices, and religion throughout his fame. I personally found a few of the poems required a second reading in order for me to grasp the full meaning. Each stanza is composed with intent and care which show in the way each line connects to the next. I particularly enjoyed reading about Muhammad Ali's conversion to Islam and how the conversion changed and affected his life and career. Odes on Ali (A Tribute to the Greatest) by David A. Bates is an entertaining read that serves to teach readers more about who Muhammad Ali truly was, both as a person and as a boxer, while utilizing flawlessly written poetry.

Cee-Jay Aurinko

David A. Bates' Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest is truly that, an earnest tribute from a man who absolutely loved Muhammad Ali and all of the extras that he brought to the boxing scene. The perfect package as both fighter and entertainer, Ali was a thorn in the sides of the people who didn't like seeing him as the champion. They questioned his belief in the Muslim faith and tried to have him sent off to war, but Ali had to decline because of religious reasons. Like the poets of yore, Bates pays tribute to this electrifying and historical personality with rhymes written in the style of odes. It is a unique approach to take readers through the professional career of this great icon.

Before the rhymes start, Bates offers his take on Ali and describes his reason for writing a biography about him through a collection of odes. Rhyming is an art form unto itself; the author's rhymes are both creative and entertaining. I love rhymes. I enjoyed the book. Bates gave me a complete look at Ali's career. Before reading this book, I only knew basic stuff about this legendary boxing hero. Now I can safely say, in a few short hours, I got a lot of information. The fights were so easy to imagine.

Not much is offered in the way of breaks from the odes, but after each one, I found myself eager to turn the page. Through these odes, I learned some very interesting things. One of them includes the possible origin of one of the more popular music genres and another will make me look at the inspiration behind a well-known boxing movie franchise with brand new eyes. What readers will discover about Ali is more than the aforementioned though. Bates offers both enjoyment and enlightenment.

Kayti Nika Raet

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to The Greatest by David A. Bates is a biography of Muhammad Ali's fights, from his first pro boxing match with Tunney Hunsaker in Louisville, Kentucky in 1960 to his final match against Leon Spinks, where he cinched his title as three time heavyweight champion in 1978. Told in verse (the odes the title hints at), Bates offers an unique approach to Ali's life that is also an homage to the boxer's own lyrical style. With clever titles like "Rabbit Season" that detail Ali's fight with Floyd Patterson to Ali's African Ascension, the title of the poem chronicling his fight with George Foreman, Bates plays off of Ali’s own wit while succinctly encompassing the theme of each poem.

Though Muhammad Ali reached his prime in the boxing scene over half a century ago, he has done so much to capture the public's imagination that his death in 2016 was felt vividly around the world. With Odes on Ali, Bates manages to create a biography that is both accurate, informative and entertaining, just like the man whose fights he chronicles. As a fan of Muhammad Ali, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Odes on Ali. I felt that Bates does a great job in bringing each fight to life, cleverly incorporating Ali's own words into the poems in a seamless manner. I really enjoyed reading Odes on Ali and truly see it as what Bates intended: A Tribute to The Greatest. Highly recommended to any fan of boxing and the legend that is Muhammad Ali. Very, very good. I liked it a lot!

Ray Simmons

I would have been upset if I didn't like Odes On Ali by David A. Bates. I am not the greatest sports fan, but I do have my own sports heroes. Ali is one of them. I was a boy when he was at the height of his boxing career and I have known and admired him for as long I can remember. I didn't always agree with him, but I always admired him and respected the way he unflinchingly voiced his opinion, even when it wasn't popular. So, I am happy to report that Odes On Ali is a beautiful and fitting tribute to arguably the greatest boxer that has ever lived. David A. Bates so obviously loves Ali too and he knows his life and career far better than I do, though I have read about Ali and watched him all my life.

Rich in detail and description and very beautifully written, I can’t help but think Ali would love this book too. Bates takes us step by step through the Champ's life and he always writes with respect, even when talking about the controversial issues. Odes On Ali took me back to my childhood and the days when I only knew he was a great fighter and a great showman. I knew nothing of the controversy. I just liked him. That was enough. This is a book that every fan of boxing and fans of Ali should have. Anyone interested in the history of the United States from the '50s through the '90s would be wise to check out this ode to the greatest.

Gisela Dixon

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest by David A. Bates is a poetry book and a tribute to the great boxing champion, Muhammad Ali. Odes on Ali takes off from the style and rhythm of poetry that Muhammad Ali himself was known for. David Bates has followed a similar style of poetry in this book as an ode to this great sportsman of the twentieth century, one who was known for both his wins in the boxing ring as well as his charisma and activism outside of it. Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest contains a series of poems on Ali’s boxing matches throughout his career, and are composed specifically keeping those particular fights in mind all the way from his earlier fights to one of his last ones in the arena.

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest by David A. Bates is a very unique poetry book and I found it quite enjoyable. Although I didn’t know the details of some of these fights before reading this book, reading about them in this format really brought them to life for me. I also loved the simple, rhythmic, flowing style of the poetry, which is indeed reminiscent of Ali’s poems himself. Although Ali’s accomplishments and activism off the field is mentioned briefly, this book primarily focuses on his professional career. All in all, this is a great book that fans of Muhammad Ali will surely love to read.

Rabia Tanveer

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest by David A. Bates is a collection of poems on one of the greatest boxers in the world. A pop culture icon, Muhammad Ali took the world by storm from the moment he put his first step inside the boxing ring. Throughout his years, he won three heavyweight championships. His charismatic demeanor, eloquent pre-game speeches, and amazing performances in the ring make him one of the most influential boxers and sportsmen the world has ever seen. These are just some of the points that poet David A. Bates discusses beautifully in his book Odes on Ali.

Bates retells us every fight Ali fought in the ring in the form of a poem. This book is the perfect biography of a sportsman who thrived on the love of his fans and loved to give them more. The poems are beautifully built, the words wisely chosen, and the lyrical quality of the poems is absolutely phenomenal. This book not only talks about the good parts of his life and his good characteristics. Bates talks about the bad in Ali’s life as well.

Bates talks about Ali’s substantial influence on the sport and how his charisma and his talent have made people reconsider everything about this sport. Ali was not a usual celebrity and he never tried to be. He took a stand for what he thought was right and what was wrong and he proved that in the ring. Bates did a fantastic job of encompassing Muhammad Ali’s life in the ring in this one book. Very well written and enjoyable poems!

Christian Sia

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest by David A. Bates is a beautiful collection of poems celebrating the legendary boxer, Muhammed Ali, but more importantly, it is a poetic portrait of the soul of the man who has come to be revered over the years as the greatest boxer of all time. In this collection, the author features what was the secret to the phenomenal professional success of Cassius Clay (aka) Muhammed Ali. Who was this man? What was he like before, during, and after each fight? What was it that made fans adore him?

Odes on Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest covers the incredible career of Cassius Clay, a man who dominated the boxing stage in the sixties and the seventies. Each poem covers an episode, a fight, a piece of Ali’s history, powerfully bringing out the poet and fighter in him, the man with the sharp tongue and brilliant wit who coined rhyming phrases and delivered poems that predicted the outcomes of his fights. Reading this poetry, one gets a powerful glimpse of Ali the greatest fighter, the effects his words had on his opponents, and his fighting philosophy. For instance, here is one of his powerful utterances that have been imprinted in the minds of many fans and poetry lovers:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”

What is even more interesting is how David A. Bates portrays the image of the sportsman as a person, his values, and his resilient spirit. The poems are beautiful written, paying homage to Cassius Clay with their rhymes and rhythm. I enjoyed the diction, so reminiscent of a combative mood, the depth of thought that comes across in the poems. This is a collection that should find a good welcome by those who have loved the iconic fighter.

David A. Bates

I want to thank Jack Magnus for the great review. To receive such high praise from a reviewer affiliated with such a prestigious organization as readers favorite lets a writer know that he got it right.

Jack Sullivan

Very good written Bio on Ali great job good reading a least five stars review