Johnny Smith, assistant professor of history in the School of History and Sociology, has been awarded the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) Monograph of the Year award for his book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (co-authored with Randy Roberts, a distinguished professor of history at Purdue University).
The NASSH monograph award is an annual award that recognizes outstanding research and writing in the field of sports history. Smith and Robert’s book illuminates the relationship between the famous boxer and the Muslim minister. Blood Brothers reveals how Malcolm X awakened Cassius Clay’s political consciousness. According to the book jacket, “This dynamic brotherhood, fused together by racial pride and self-determination, transformed the new heavyweight champion — Muhammad Ali — into an international symbol of Black Power.”
Smith and Roberts sought to create a timeline of Ali and Malcolm X’s friendship using sources such as sensitive FBI files, State Department documents, newspaper articles, and Malcolm X’s personal papers. By piecing together redacted information and subtle clues, they brought to light a dramatic arc of affection, betrayal, and violence.