Beat Muhammad Ali

Afterthoughts on Bockris’ ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven”

by Tobe Damit

I was reading ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven’, one of a mutlivolumesque serie of very thorough biographies written by Victor Bockris, treating of everything that has to do with some specific thinkers and doers that were behind the 60’s counterculture and social revolution. Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven” was published the day after his victory over Foreman in 1974 and it was Ali’s favorite book about himself (and mine too!). If you check out the author’s bibliography you will find some of the most iconic figures of that revolution: All of which can be related in one way or another to Beat Punks. I’ve already reviewed in-depth his remarkable biographies about Andy Warhol and Lou Reed . By the way, I intend to review all of Bockris’ biographies in the near future here on LAN.

So, in the blue corner, you have all these writers, painters and musicians and then, in the red corner, there is a real boxer, an athlete so good that he left for sure a permanent mark in the boxing world. And you may ask yourselves ”How did he get there? How does Ali fit in with all these people who triggered a revolution in the 60’s?” Let me just say for starters that they all, in their own ways, shed some blood, sweat and tears. Muhammad Ali was much more than an athlete or an inspiring success story. Most people remember him from the early days of his celebrity for being a loud mouth. He sure was one. For each and every opponent he fought he would ”bust some rhymes”, taunting his opponents, predicting in how many they would go down, making fun of them any which way he could as well as giving names and meanings to his fights like Thrilla in Manila, (Ali-Frazier III in Manila, Philippines, October 1, 1975) and Rumble in the Jungle (Ali-Foreman in  Kinshasa, Zaire, October 30, 1974) that led to a documentary called ”When We Were Kings”.

Ali remembers the origins of his poetry: ”It was ’62, when I fought Archie Moore. Moore rhymed with four, so the publicity for that fight was:
Moore will
hit the floor
in round four

Then I fought Henry Cooper, I said:
This is no jive
Cooper will
leave in five

*This is a quote from Ali in Bockris’ ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven”.

Doesn’t that sound like rap to you?? It sure does to me. The very roots of rap were precisely a verbal fight between 2 opponents and organized as such in official contests and in my mind, those verbal assaults were the very first rap rhymes ever made. Some might deny him that but he did write poems. Now Ali also was a success story and a very good story-teller, you can’t deny him that. The very first ”big book” I read was Muhammad Ali very own striking autobiography ”The Greatest” that was later put into a mediocre movie in which Ali played his own character (of course!). Doesn’t it sound a lot like ”8 Mile’ to you?? (except for the fact 8 Mile is a good movie and Eminem a good actor). The irony is that ”The Greatest” was a fake bio written by a back muslim propagandist. Ali never read it and did not like it.  Bockris’ book about the champ was Ali’s favorite book. Victor gave it to him in 1975 and Ali had himself photographed with the book in the 1990s. His wife told me she was still reading the book to him in 2009! Because it is the most accurate account of his inner life and what he planned to do after he retired from boxing in 1975. The horror of the fights he was forced to fight from 1976-1981 made it especially appealing to the peace loving champion.

But first and foremost, Ali was an actor in his own life. He was an artist as a boxer, as a promoter, as a poet, as a spiritual figure, as a counterculture thinker, as a civil right champion, as a family man, as a life coach. Furthermore as you read Victor Bockris’ ”Muhammad Ali In Fighters Heaven” you are told that they were rocks painted by Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr., and transported by a guy named Harvey Moyer, huge rocks on the grounds of his training camp on which were painted the names of great adversaries, each of them representing a milestone in Ali’s life, installations that should be considered as conceptual art to be on the technical side of this but his skills were in every detail. These rocks meant a lot to Ali. What made Ali so inspiring is not so much what he did as how he did it and who he was, because who he was always transpired in the way he did things. Reading through ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven’‘,  you can very well imagine how everyone around him; his family, his supporters, trainers, organisers, doctors, lawyers, etc. were all devoted and loyal to him because they loved him as a person. He was running things with love and discipline, using one or the other along the way as required by the circumstances. Always true to himself and his beliefs, as a man, as a father, as a colored man and as a muslim.

One of the milestones on the training camp grounds. This one dedicated to Sonny Liston (obviously). This was taken during his training for the ”Rumble in the Jungle” fight.

Ali saw in his birth name Cassius Clay the mark of the slavery that was a burden to his colored brothers and that is the reason that he changed his name and his faith.

Muhammad Ali Remembered, by Those Who Knew Him as Cassius – The New York Times

On April 28, 1967, with the United States at war in Vietnam, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” This guy did what many thousands people promoting peace never even dared to do. This ”Black Muslim guy”, who was mistreated for as long as he can remember in his own country precisely because of the fact that he was black, said to the face of his recruiting officer that he had no intentions whatsoever to go kill another human being at the other end of the world, whom he had never met and further more who had never caused him any harm. Now it may not seem such an act of bravery but don’t forget that this young fellow still officially and originally named Cassius Clay, born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, this Muslim Black Boxer who at age 18, won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and turned professional later that year, was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges, and stripped of his boxing titles.

He successfully appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, by which time he had not fought for nearly four years and thereby lost a period of peak performance as a boxing athlete. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the war had made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation but he definitely paid a very steep price. Those years were lost forever for him and for all of the world to see him boxing at his best even if he is still considered by many to be ”The Greatest”.

Andy Warhol-Muhammad Ali at Fighter’s Heaven, 1978©Photo by Victor Bockris

Of course the ultimate integration as a counterculture figure was Ali’s placid but unmovable resistance to go fight the Viet Nam war. And the unveiled interest Andy Warhol had towards him just confirmed the fact that Ali had become one of the greatest leading spirits of the 60’s and the 70’s.  The encounter of Andy Warhol to Ali’s training camp is detailed in Bockris’  ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven”. A man who’s dazzling virtuosity within the prize ring was matched only by his articulate and outrageous showmanship and integrity outside it.

I can see no better ending than to leave you with a poem written by Ali himself. This one of three poems that were exclusively published in ”Muhammad Ali in Fighter’s Heaven” for the first time… This one is a poem about…


Better far from all I see
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?

Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I’m led
Lingering until I’m dead

Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees
Better than of heart attack
Or some dose of drug I lack
Let me die by being Black

Better far that I should go
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know
Better than the bloody stain
On some highway where I’m lain
Torn by flying glass and pain

Better calling death to come
Than to die another dumb
Muted victim in the slum

Better than of this prison rot
If there’s any choice I’ve got
Kill me here on the spot

Better far my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage
Lest it cool with ancient age

Better vowing for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie

Better now that I say my sooth
I’m gonna die demanding truth
While I’m still akin to youth

Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone
Never mind another dawn.

– by Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016). ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven” contains an outstanding collection of his poetry, along with his commentary on how he wrote the poems.

”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven” also contains a complete utterly interesting chapter detailling the historic encounter that took place when Warhol went to Ali’s training camp to take pictures of the champ. Here’s a glimpse…

Andy Warhol was far from the only artist to depict Ali in his art, though Ali himself said Warhol’s piece was “by far the best painting I have ever had of myself.” The painting, he felt, successfully conveyed his “many moods.” In preparation for these prints, Warhol traveled to Deer Lake Pennsylvania where Ali was training for a match with Ernie Shavers. It was at the training camp that Ali and Warhol met, and where Warhol took the photographs that would eventually become Ali’s portrait. Initially, Warhol seemed unafraid of the larger-than-life boxer. After being teased about the excessive price the pictures would be sold for, Warhol asked “Could we, uh, do some, uh, pictures where you’re not, uh, talking?” According to Bockris is “Nobody had ever told the champ to shut his famous mouth in quite such a not-to-be-trifled with way.” By the end of the shoot, however, Ali managed to unnerve the artist. When Warhol was finished taking photos he reached to shake Ali’s hand and mumbled, “Thanks er, champ.” The boxer spun around and furiously demanded, “Did you say tramp?” Ali laughed, but not before Warhol lost his cool in a brief moment of panic. *Direct quote from the chapter recounting Warhol’s visit to the camp in Bockris’ ”Muhammad Ali In Fighter’s Heaven”. 

This post is dedicated to Ali’s children: Laila Ali, Maryum Ali, Rasheda Ali, Asaad Amin, Hana Ali, Khaliah Ali, Jamillah Ali, Mya Ali, Muhammad Ali Jr. It is dedicated as well to all the children victims of crimes against humanity or civil rights violation. 

Read interview with the author here

All rights reserved 2017

T. Casey Brennan

Truth Stranger Than Fiction


Comic Book Writer MK-Ultra Victim JFK Alleged Shooter

To say that the life of T. Casey Brennan is extraordinary would be a huge understatement. Since childhood he was dragged in a series of utterly mysterious, mind-boggling events culminating when Brennan got involuntary DIRECTLY implicated in JFK assassination, being one of the shooters. Brennan himself  is a very well-known writer so I will use various sources and put them together so we can have the whole story. I was fascinated by everything I found and I saw it as imperious to share it with you.

Here is the best introduction I could findYou find the whole story on there too, not just the intro.

”My late mother was paperback author Alice Brennan, and she published numerous gothic novels, one of which, CASTLE MIRAGE, was recently reprinted in the U.K., in Leicester, by a company called Ulverscroft or F.A. Thorpe. My late father, who wrote under the name Bill Brennan, was not as widely published, but did appear in the classic 1940s Street & Smith pulp, LOVE STORY magazine. I had a blueprint for making contacts in the magazine industry, and the process for submitting a professional looking manuscript through them. I was born August 11, 1948, in St. Clair County, in Port Huron, Michigan. In addition to being authors, my late parents were both local school board officials; my dad, using his full name of William James Brennan, served on the St. Clair County Board of Education, and my late mother served as CEO of the Swamp School District, Kenockee Township School District No. 4…this, in the 50s and 60s. When I got in as a Warren comics scripter, I began with the standard E.C. comics motif, which the Warren magazines were intended to imitate, but I soon branched off into work that was more experimental.”

T Casey Brennan told everything that happened via a story called ”Conjurella”. I thought this memo by Brennan himself would make a perfect introduction:



by T. Casey Brennan

Conjurella is true but I want people to think I’m lying.

Basically what happened is this: David Ferrie wanted children to experiment on; turn them into assassins, agents, and the like, same as what they were doing in Asia at the time. He said he didn’t want to pay them because “they’ll think they run it then”. He chose me and Linda (she was firing from another window in the Texas Book Depository Building). Linda’s step-father at that time was my uncle, the late John Goodrich, of Columbus, Ohio. Her mother was my Aunt Bonnie. They lived very poorly, and I remember that there was a lady who lived upstairs we called Mamaganda. As far as I know, Mamaganda was the first person murdered over David Ferrie’s plan to make Linda and me shoot John Kennedy.Another, amazingly, was George Lincoln Rockwell. Here’s why that happened: to explain this thing that they were doing, whatever it was, with laboratories, and rows and rows of children in front of computers with needles sticking in them, they said they were planning a SECRET INVASION OF CUBA. Now, THAT is what Lee thought was happening, and, whatever else you may have heard about him, that is what he was damned well for: invading Cuba. (The stuff they were doing with kids bothered him, however, and THAT was what he told Tippit before his death.) rightist like George Lincoln Rockwell and Major General Edwin Walker were supposed to have some kind of role drumming up support for Beachhead Cuba, among the people who David Ferrie was fooling. Walker wouldn’t help at all, so David Ferrie ordered Lee to shoot AT him (and missed) to scare him. Rockwell must have done something or other because later, when he went to see the  Nation of Islam, he told Malcolm X that I had shot John Kennedy, and even called me by name. Coloring it to fit his own philosophy, he (Rockwell) told Malcolm that “Jew doctors” were creating a plague to kill all the blacks, and had already started infecting babies with it. The “Jew doctor” was Dr. J.H. Earnshaw (a Dutchman) and company; to Rockwell, damned near everybody in the world was a Jew. Anyway, Malcolm X thought it was just a screwball Nazi theory, but THAT’s what got Rockwell killed.

Now. If you want to hear the whole story through the man himself well you most definitely can. The story is utterly interesting and it’s along detailed accounts of TCB’s life as one of David Ferrie’s mice. Just click on the link:

Castle Mirage – The Prelude: Conjurella

by T. Casey Brennan 

From A Moment a Moment of Cerebus:

Prior to JFK’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, Brennan said he would go with his father who would get hypnosis from a Dr. Earnshaw. While they were there, the doctor would drug them with or without their consent, he said.

“I was a docile kid,” Brennan said. “I did what they told me to do.”

Brennan claims that Dr. Earnshaw and David Ferrie, who some conspiracy theorists believe was involved in the JFK assassination, came at him with a needle and injected something into his neck. He was then stuffed in a crate and flown to Dallas. Brennan said he woke up in a storage room. A hood was put over his head and he was forced to fire a shot at the president who was driving by on the street below. Brennan said he didn’t know if the shot connected, but he thinks it ricocheted off the pavement and hit a pedestrian. He was then pushed out-of-the-way and Ferrie continued to shoot. Brennan said they left the storage room and ran into Lee Harvey Oswald on the second floor, pushing a broom. Brennan was 15 years old at the time of the assassination, he said.

Brennan’s name is mentioned in the book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi, which he carries around with him on he streets of Ann Arbor. Brennan said he would take a polygraph test and testify about his experience, but no one seems to care.

“Nobody wants to know or hear about it,” he said.

Hypothetical Cerebus
Written by T. Casey Brennan, art by Dave Sim
Actor Comics Presents #1 (HERO Initiative ,2006)
In 2006, Brennan wrote more about the JFK assassination in his comic Hypothetical Cerebus in Actor Comics Presents. He writes in detail about how he was forced to take a shot at JFK and what his life has been like since that historic event… 
Father, son tortured, robbed

From the Times Herald, 12/4/75

By John F. Brown

An Avoca man and his son, who were beaten and robbed of more that $1,400 then bound and
gagged and set on fire, were left to die in a flame-filled bathroom of their old farmhouse about
midnight Wednesday.
William J. Brennan, 72, of 4238 Bricker Road, and his son, Terrance Casey Brennan, 27,
bound together with a pair of police handcuffs, electrical cord and tape, managed to free
themselves to telephone a Michigan Bell operator for help.
Sheriff Norman D. Meharg said Brennan and his son were admitted to Yale Hospital for
treatment of second- and third-degree burns of their hands and arms and head and facial injuries.
Young Brennan had been stabbed in the head several times by his attackers.

Both men were reported in fair condition today at the hospital.
Meharg said there have been no arrests made and so far there are no suspects. He has assigned
Detectives Robert V. Quain and Donald E. Tuthill to the case.
Meharg said the torture bandit were both white, armed with hand guns and had dark ski masks
over their faces when they forced their way into the Brennan home about 9 p.m.

"One of the thieves knocked on the door and when Mr. Brennan answered he told Brennan he
had ran out of gasoline, then pulled the ski hat over his face, pointed a gun at Brennan and
pushed his way into the house," Meharg said.

"The Bandits used a pair of handcuffs to lock the men together. They set paper on fire and held it
under the hands of the two men. Their hands were baked," Meharg said.

Deputy Sheriffs James VanConant and Orrin Burgett arrived at the scene less than six minutes
after the operator called the Sheriff's Department.
"You could smell burning flesh when you entered the house," VanConant said.
Brennan and his son told the officers their attackers pushed them into the bathroom of the
six-room farmhouse after they had taken the money.

They said sheets and bedding were put around them on the floor and the men poured them on the
floor and the men poured some type of flammable liquid over them.
One of the men tossed a lighted match into the sheets, closed the bathroom door and ran from the

Brennan said he and his son managed to get the rope and cord off their feet and stamped out the
fire with their feet and hands, which were free of the handcuffs. They forced open the door and
stumbled to the telephone.

"My dad thought it was a joke at first. He even tried to brush the gun aside from the man at the
door, but I told him not to," Casey said.
Every room in the house, except the kitchen, was ransacked as the robbers searched the house
for money.

Neighbors of the Brennan's heard nothing, deputies said.

However, VanConant and Burgett said there were footsteps leading from the Brennan home
through freshly fallen snow for about a block to an area where a car had been parked.

The Brennan's were described by their neighbors as quiet people who "bothered no one."
Neighbors said the Brennans had few visitors
Brennan's wife, Mrs. Alice Brennan, was killed in a car accident two years ago in Ohio.
Buy the comic based on TCB true story!
On page 1496 of Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” Brennan is listed as number 8 on a list of possible JFK shooters.


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