Transcending sport: The reification of Muhammad Ali

BLACK, Jack (2017). Transcending sport: The reification of Muhammad Ali. In: Ali in Un/Expected Spaces, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, 17-19 May 2017. (Unpublished)

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Transcending sport, politics and culture, the American boxer, Muhammad Ali, occupies a prominent place in discussions on sport, identity, politics and ‘race’. Images of Ali’s sporting career, his numerous remarks, phrases and assertions – captured and available for prosperity via the media – and his appearances at global sporting mega-events; such as, the 1996 Atlanta and 2012 London Olympic Games, are all interspersedly used and reused by media companies, advertising agencies and global development projects. In sum, it is evident that Ali’s ‘authenticity’ as a sporting star, and, more significantly, as a global ‘cultural icon’, is predicated upon a plethora of interpretations, cultural readings and media representations. By way of exploring ‘Ali’, this presentation will critically consider the notion of authenticity, and, will draw upon the work of György Lukács and his conception of reification, in order to examine how media coverage of Ali’s death discursively (re)produced ‘Ali’ via media reports and public responses that interdependently aimed to know and reflect upon his celebrity image. In particular, it will expose how a set of competing, and, often, contradictory, appraisals of Ali’s life and career, served to present ‘Ali’ as an observable, reified form. Through a façade of mediation, interpretation and representation, these debates formed a constitutive part of Ali’s legacy. Echoing other celebrity deaths, Ali’s significance and his prominent location within the memories of audiences and fans resulted in a transcendent and polysemous portrayal.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Sport and Exercise Science
Depositing User: Jack Black
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2018 12:47
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 15:32

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