Saturday 7th November, 2.15pm GMT
Miami, 1963. A young boy from Louisville, Kentucky, is on the path to becoming the greatest sportsman of all time.
Cassius Clay is training in the 5th Street Gym for his heavyweight title clash against the formidable Sonny Liston. He is beginning to embrace the ideas and attitudes of Black Power, and firebrand preacher Malcolm X will soon become his spiritual adviser. Thus Cassius Clay will become ‘Cassius X’ as he awaits his induction into the Nation of Islam.
Cassius also befriends the legendary soul singer Sam Cooke, falls in love with soul singer Dee Dee Sharp and becomes a remarkable witness to the first days of soul music. As with his award-winning soul trilogy, Stuart Cosgrove’s intensive research and sweeping storytelling shines a new light on how black music lit up the sixties against a backdrop of social and political turmoil – and how Cassius Clay made his remarkable transformation into Muhammad Ali.
Stuart Cosgrove originally from Perth, was media editor with the NME and a feature writer for a range of newspapers and magazines. In 2005 he was named Broadcaster of the Year in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards and in 2012 he won numerous awards including a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for Channel 4’s coverage of the London Paralympics 2012. The second book in his soul trilogy, Memphis 68, won the Penderyn Music Prize in 2018.
Heath Common is a songwriter, poet and performance-artist from northern England. He began his musical/spoken word career performing in New York City with his mates he had previously met in Britain: Robert Lockwood and Johnny Shines – the stepson and close friend, respectively, of the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson. He was subsequently involved with a diverse number of musicians ranging from the American guitarist John Fahey to the British indie act The Rhythm Sisters. Heath Common continues to work closely with surviving figures from the Beat Movement and is a published poet. Most recently his work features in the recently published anthology ‘Viral Verses’ (York University Press, 2020), alongside contributions from Ian McMillan, Dame Margaret Drabble, Mike Harding, Ralph McTell and Milly Johnson.