Remembering Ali : a study of print media's framing of Muhammad Ali's death
Did the Louisville Courier-Journal and The New York Times do Muhammad Ali's legacy justice in their obituary and memorial coverage during the week after his June 3, 2016, death, or were the contextual complexities surrounding Ali's narrative simplified to continue a narrative that hinders future attempts to understand what exactly "The Louisville Lip" meant to the world? This study uses framing theory to examine how The Greatest was portrayed by print and digital news publications at both local and national levels after his 1967 refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and after he died at age 74 and argues that both newspapers perpetuated a sanitized frame of the boxer as a universally loved iconic athlete-hero role model in 2016 instead of the controversial mouthpiece he was at the height of criticism against him in 1967. The study demonstrates how the re-examination of lives can result in the problematic erasing of historical complexities and the inviting of an oversimplified version of subjects. Analyzing Ali's development as an athlete-hero in print and digital media from the 1960s through his 2016 death allows society to understand how his image was used and changed to serve as a model for understanding wider changes in American attitudes toward issues of race and religion.