Norman Mailer's "The Fight" is quite simply one of the best boxing books I have ever read. Reading Mailer the novelist writing about boxing gives you a certain novelty you will not experience in other books on sport. Mailer's keen observation comes shining through: on life in Zaire, Mobutu's rule, George Foreman and of course Muhammad Ali.
I was surprised to see that Mailer has such a keen eye on the sport. His description of the fight is like no other you will ever read or see. The result is something like a passage jointly written by Bill Cayton and Alistair MacLean. Mailer with his minute observation adds a great touch of drama to the proceedings instead of presenting only a dry technical analysis of the fight. If you want the latter, you might as well watch Max Kellerman on ESPN. Mailer on the other hand gives you a lively picture, making you feel like you were there on that dark, sultry Kinshasa night, part of the radiant crowd chanting "Ali, mumbaye".
Mailer displays an ardent love for the sport and admiration for Muhammad Ali. Many insights are given into Ali's personality. Particularly interesting are the insights into the lives of Ali's camp members: Angelo Dundee, the workaholic trainer who never gave away an inch; Lou Bundini, the colorful sidekick, and Herbert Muhammad, the manager who always meant business. I have read a lot on Ali but have not been able to find anything special on his troupe, apart from this book by Mailer.
If you are a serious boxing and Ali fan, you just have to read this book. If you are not and are just interested in understanding the fascination about Muhammad Ali, this is something that will do a lot to help you.