What effect does the great sporting-corporate juggernaunt that is the contemporary Olympics have on host cities? And what are the diverse range of tactics that grassroots activists use to protest its damaging results? In this exclusive extract from his recently published Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, leading Olympic expert Jules Boykoff takes the 2012 Olympics in London as a case study of corporate greed and popular resistance against Celebration Capitalism.
Muhammad Ali died earlier this month on 3rd June, aged 74. In tribute to his fearless courage, in the ring and in politics, we publish this adapted excerpt from Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties by Mike Marqusee.
(Muhammad Ali at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Via Wikimedia Commons.)
On 25 February 1964, Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world. This against-the-odds victory was one of the shocking upheavals characteristic of the era, a surprise that compelled people to reconsider their assumptions. The triumph of the underdog, and with it the confounding of bookmakers and experts, is one of the most visceral thrills sports have to offer; it brings with it a combined sense of disorientation and unsuspected possibility, feelings which were to be intensified by Clay’s actions outside the ring in the days that followed.