This weekend, in memory of Muhammad Ali and with a nod to next month’s events in Rio, we’re scheduling a rematch with Eyad Barghuthy’s “A Knockout Punch,” from our May 2015 issue of new Palestinian writing. Barghuthy tells the tale of another black Muslim boxer, Adib, who deploys the title weapon to become the national champion at only thirteen and world champion four years later. He punches his way through Europe and all the way to the US, where he channels Ali to bob and weave his way to victory over his American opponent. Undefeated and training for the 1980 Moscow Olympics as the presumptive gold medalist, he’s blindsided when Israel joins the boycott of the Games in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Sucker-punched by politics, down for the count against the one opponent immune to his blows, Adib throws in the towel, never to know if he would have become “the Greatest.”
Image: Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell, Houston, TX, 1967 (Creative Commons).