Whitaker cites the “Muhammad Ali” entry in his own edited collection African American Icons of Sport (Greenwood, 2008) as a refereed book chapter, presumably extending a major research project he proposed on Ali. Evidence of misappropriation of the work of others is shown first in direct borrowings from Wikipedia and second in material taken from the text and findings of other writers.
A. Wikipedia. Much of the text in this piece is found near verbatim on numerous current web sites, such as those providing essays for students. The original source appears to be in the text of old versions of Wikipedia, dated much earlier than the publication of Icons. The following excerpts show the text in Whitaker and the mirror text and date of the Wikipedia entry.
1. Whitaker, pp. 2-3:
“In Louisville on October 29, 1960, Cassius Clay won his first professional fight. The win was a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker, who was the police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. From 1960 to 1963, the young fighter amassed a record of 19-0, including 15 knockouts. The boxers he defeated included Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones, and Henry Cooper. Clay’s victories included Archie Moore, a boxing legend who fought over 200 previous fights…”
Wikipedia, 30 October, 2004:
“In Louisville on October 29, 1960 Cassius Clay won his first professional fight. He won a six round decision over Tunney Hunsaker who was the police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. From 1960 to 1963, the young fighter amassed a record of 19-0 with 15 knockouts. He defeated such boxers as Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Duke Sabedong, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, and Lamar Clark (who had won his previous 40 bouts by knockout). Among Clay's more impressive victories were against Sonny Banks (who knocked him down earlier in the bout), Alejandro Lavorante and Archie Moore (a boxing legend who had won over 200 previous fights).”
2. Whitaker, p. 3
“Clay then won a disputed 10-round decision over Doug Jones, who, despite being lighter than Clay, staggered him as soon as the fight started with a right hand. Jones continued to beat Clay to the punch throughout the fight. The fight was named “Fight of the Year” for 1963. Clay’s next fight was against Britain’s Henry Cooper, who knocked Clay down with a left hook near the end of the fourth round. Clay emerged victorious again after the fight was stopped in the fifth round due to a deep cut on Cooper’s face. Despite these close calls against Jones and Cooper, Clay became the top contender for Heavyweight Championship held by the fearsome Sonny Liston”
Wikipedia 29 December 2006
“Clay won a disputed 10 round decision over Doug Jones, who, despite being lighter than Clay, staggered Clay as soon as the fight started with a right hand, and beat Clay to the punch continually during the fight. The fight was named "Fight of the Year" for 1963. Clay's next fight was against Henry Cooper, who knocked Clay down with a left hook near the end of the fourth round. The fight was stopped in the 5th round due to a deep cut on Cooper's face. Despite these close calls against Doug Jones and Henry Cooper, he became the top contender for Sonny Liston's title. “
3. Whitaker, p. 5:
“Ali won a 15-round decision against Canadian George Chuvalo. Ali then went to England and defeated Henry Cooper and Brian London by stoppage on cuts. Ali’s next defense was against German southpaw Karl Mildenberger, the first German to fight for the title since Max Schmeling. In one of the tougher fights of his life, Ali finally stopped his opponent in round 12. Ali returned to the United States in November 1966 to defeat Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the Houston Astrodome”
Wikipedia 24 October 2006:
“Ali won a fifteen round decision against substitute opponent George Chuvalo. He then went to England and defeated Henry Cooper and Brian London by stoppage on cuts. Ali's next defense was against German southpaw Karl Mildenberger, the first German to fight for the title since Max Schmeling. In one of the tougher fights of his life, Ali stopped his opponent in round 12.Ali returned to the United States in November 1966 to fight Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams in the Houston Astrodome,”
4. Whitaker, p. 8
“Shortly after the Quarry fight, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that Ali was unjustly denied a boxing license. Once again able to fight in New York, he fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December 1970. Ali beat Bonavena in 15 rounds, paving the way for a title fight against the awkward and highly efficient Joe Frazier.”
Wikipedia 24 October 2006
“Shortly after the Quarry fight, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that Ali was unjustly denied a boxing license. Once again able to fight in New York, he fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December of 1970. After a tough 14 rounds, Ali stopped Bonavena in the 15th, paving the way for a title fight against Joe Frazier.”
5. Whitaker, p. 9
“Ali’s frequent insults, slurs, and belittling poems directed at Frazier increased the anticipation and excitement for the fight. The bout itself lasted 14 back-breaking rounds, which saw Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch refuse to allow Frazier to continue and Ali emerge victorious. Ali was so spent after the contest he said, “This must be what death feels like.” This fight has been called the greatest fight of all time by many. Ali won many of the early rounds, but Frazier staged a comeback in the middle rounds. By the late rounds, however, Ali had reasserted control, and the fight was stopped due to Frazier’s eyes being closed. Neither fighter was ever the same again. Frazier would permanently retire after two more fights, and a declining Ali would struggle with many opponents”
Wikipedia 24 June 2006:
“Ali's frequent insults, slurs and poems increased the anticipation and excitement for the fight. After 14 grueling rounds, Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch refused to allow Frazier to continue. Frazier felt betrayed and never talked to Futch again. Ali was quoted after the fight as saying "This must be what death feels like". Ring Magazine called this bout 1975's Fight of the Year, the fifth year an Ali fight had earned that distinction. This fight has been called the greatest fight of all time by many. Ali won many of the early rounds, but Frazier staged a comeback in the middle rounds. By the late rounds, however, Ali had re-asserted control, and the fight was stopped due to Frazier's eyes being closed. Neither fighter was ever the same again. Frazier would permanently retire after two more fights, and a declining Ali would struggle with many opponents…”
B. Whitaker’s use of Brian Duffy. In the following text, on page 4 of “Ali,” Whitaker cites a source in his bibliography Ronney, 2001, for a direct quotation of Ali. This is actually Brian Duffy, “Muhammad Ali: He Fought with His Fists--and his Words,” U.S. News & World Report, 8/12/2001. Before the quotation, Whitaker uses Duffy’s own words without attribution. The direct use Duffy’s text is marked in italics.
”On a warm spring morning in Houston, Texas, on April 28, 1967, Ali was among 46 young men inside a Houston military recruitment building who were completing paperwork, undergoing physical exams, and submitting themselves to an initial introduction to the mores that many U.S. Army recruits are subjected to. The recruits were summoned individually and ordered to step forward. “Cassius Clay!” a young lieutenant barked, “Army!” Ali did not budge. “Clay!” the soldier snapped again. “Army!” Ali still did not move. The charade continued for several more minutes before another officer explained the penalty for refusing the draft: five years in prison and a hefty fine. Ali was unfazed. Finally, a soldier told Ali that he would have to draft a statement explaining why he declined to serve in his nation’s army. Ali wrote quickly: “I refuse to be inducted into the armed forces of the United States because I claim to be exempt as a minister of the religion of Islam” (Ronney, 2001).
On page 5, Whitaker again uses Duffy’s own words, without any citation, as marked in italics
“When Ali refused to serve, he was stripped of his title, sentenced to prison, and fined $10,000. Freed on appeal, he was inactive as a boxer for over three years while his case dragged on. The state of New York eventually granted him a license to fight in 1970, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1971.”
C. Whitaker’s use of Gerald Early ed. The Muhammad Ali Reader. Ecco Press, 1998.
1. Whitaker, p. 7
“For example, when Ali appeared at Randolph-Macon College for Men in Virginia on April 17, 1969, to give one of 168 campus speeches he would give that year to raise legal funds for his ongoing defense against the draft,”
Early, p. xi, Introduction:
“For instance, when Ali appeared at Randolph-Macon College for Men in Virginia on April 17, 1969 to give a speech, one of 168 campuses he was planning to visit that year in order to raise legal funds for his defense against the draft,”
2. Whitaker, p. 7
“Even Tarzan, way back in Africa,” he explained, “is white” (The Catholic World, April 18, 1969).
No such issue exists. That for April 1969 has nothing on Ali. Early, in The Reader, refers to an undated issue of “The Catholic World,” shortly after the material on Randolph-Macon College but does not provide this quotation. It appears to come from Thomas Hauser, Muhammad Ali (Simon and Schuster, 1991, p. 188) who writes as follows: “Even Tarzan, the king of the jungle in black Africa, he’s white.”; Hauser cites a film documentary, a radio broadcast and his own tape collection.
3. Whitaker, p. 7
“In fact, it was Ali’s ability to use humor and anecdote to put a profoundly human face, as well as a kind of pop culture polish, on black indignation and rage…”
Early, p. xii, reads as follows:
“It was this quality of Ali’s, his ability to put a certain humor and, thus, a profoundly human face as well as a kind of pop culture sheen on black anger and indignation…”
4. Whitaker, p. 7 cites the same nonexistent issue of the Catholic World for this quotation:
“they are good thinkers, they’re smart, they’re planners. Is Martin Luther King marching and causing trouble? Okay, we’ll let the blacks use the public toilets, but let’s make ’em fight six months for it, and while they’re fighting, we’ll make another plan. The airlines [for example] will give jobs to a few black pilots and black stewardesses, but by the time they’re finally hired, white folks are on the moon in spaceships” (The Catholic World, April 18, 1969).”
The quote, somewhat mangled, is from a Playboy Interview of Ali in November 1975. That interview (edited) is included in the Early collection; the relevant text appears on p. 143.
D. Use of Bingham and Wallace. In the following uncited text (p. 11), italics indicate direct use of text from Bingham, Howard L., and Max Wallace. Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight: Cassius Clay vs. The United States of America. M. Evans and Company, 2000 (p. 259) and underlining shows close paraphrasing.
“Ali’s human rights work has taken him to every state in the United States and to every continent on the globe. His most important trip, however, came in 1994 when he went to Vietnam. He made the journey to close a tumultuous chapter in his life and to bring together the families of American and Vietnamese servicemen missing since the war.”