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BLAST Elementary
Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World

Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World

Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World
Written by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by François Roca

Provides a profile of this legendary and flamboyant boxer and the complicated life he led, from changing his religion and his name to dodging the draft during the Vietnam Era and fighting his way to regain a stripped title


Open-Ended Questions

These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.

  • “Is that all there is to a boxer?” What does that mean? What else is there to being a  boxer? (page 4)
  • If Ali won the gold medal, why do people think he is acting too proud? (page 7)
  • Think back to the quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…” What did Ali mean by this? What did it say about his fighting? (page 14)
  • Why did Cassius Clay change his name? What did it mean to him? (page 18)
  • How was Muhammad Ali different from other boxers? (page 19)
  • What made Ali a champion? (page 31)

Vocabulary Words

  • Champion
  • Triumphant


Timeline Connections

Muhammad Ali was a champion for his people as well as a champion boxer. He encouraged African Americans to be proud of themselves and their ancestry. Using his official website (, choose important events from Muhammad Ali’s life. Help students make a class timeline of his life. Then, challenge students to fill in events that were going on across the country during that same time. Example: September 1960-Ali is denied service in a segregated restaurant in Kentucky —> February-July 1960-Greensboro sit-ins.


Newspapers often use powerful images to draw readers in and further the meaning of a story. There are numerous photographs, paintings, and other images of important events in Muhammad Ali’s life. Gather some of these images and show them to the class without telling them what is happening in the picture. Students can work in groups to write a news article for the image they choose. Each group can share their story and then you can share the true story behind each image.


Journal Questions

  • Who is someone you admire or look up to? What makes them special in your eyes?
  • What part of Muhammad Ali's life impressed you the most?

Extending Books

Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali

Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali
Written by Jim Haskins
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

A biography of Muhammad Ali, from his childhood in Louisville, Kentucky, his legendary boxing career, and his conversion to Islam and opposition to the war in Vietnam, to his appearance at the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta.


Float Like a Butterfly

Float Like a Butterfly
Written by Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez

An introduction to the legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, including his accomplishments as a fighter and his contributions to society.

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali
Written by Walter Dean Myers

A portrait of one of the world's greatest boxers chronicles his childhood, his rise as a champion, his politics, and his battle against Parkinsons' disease.