Michael Holding wins William Hill's Sports Book of the Year

Black cricket legend Michael Holding wins the 2021 William Hill Sports Book of the Year with a powerful message of hope for tackling racism

  •  Michael Holding’s Why We Kneel, How We Rise wins the 33rd annual William Hill Sports Book Award against strong competition from five other shortlisted books 
  • Judges describe the book as ‘one of the most important sports books you will ever read’ 
  • Holding collected the coveted William Hill Sports book trophy and £30,000 cash prize 
  • Holding said ‘He was proud and honoured to collect the award – and hopes the book will help changes societies views on the topic of racism’

Michael Holding (above) has won William Hill’s  Sportsbook of the Year on racism

Cricket legend Michael Holding has won the William Hill Sportsbook of the Year for ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise’.

The powerful book, which delves into the root and reasons behind racism, was described by the judges as ‘one of the most important sports books you will ever read’. 

Sports stars such as Usain Bolt, Thierry Henry, Michael Johnson and Naomi Osaka also contributed by sharing stories and giving their views on the issue of racism. 

Last year, Holding stopped the sporting world in its tracks with his eloquent and passionate conversation with Ebony Rainford-Brent on Sky Sports TV about his experience of racism and his views on the ‘Black Lives Matters’ movement. And it was the public reaction to his powerful words about racism that compelled him to write this important sports and societal book. 

The legendary cricketer’s book, written with the help of journalist Ed Hawkins, explores how racism dehumanises people, how racism has been ignored by history and historians, and what it is like to be treated differently just because of the colour of your skin.

Holding of West Indies looking relaxed as he warms up before the start of play on day three of the 5th Test match between England and West Indies at The Oval, London, 14th August 1976

Holding also invites some of this generations biggest sporting icons, including Usain Bolt, Thierry Henry, Michael Johnson and Naomi Osaka to share their stories and views on one of the biggest ills in society.

Through all the pain outlined in the book, Holding delivers a message of hope and a clear pathway for change in our world.

Speaking about the book, Holding said ‘I felt it was really important to write this book, and I hope it encourages people to educate themselves about the issues raised. I would like to thank my writing partner, Ed Hawkins, Simon & Schuster and all the great sports stars who contributed to the book.

‘I am proud and honoured to receive the iconic William Hill Sport Book of the Year award, and I hope this will help us spread the message of ‘say no to racism’ and importance of learning more about this important topic.’

Other shortlisted books

Sasha Abramsky Little Wonder

Rob Burrow Too Many Reasons to Live

Ed Caesar The Moth and The Mountain

Tris Dixon Damage

Tom English & Peter Burns This Is Your Everest

Alyson Rudd, Chair of Judges, said: ‘Given everything that has happened in the world over the last 18 months, I am proud the standard of the entries was as strong as ever. Michael’s book was very well written, and brilliantly and evocatively highlights the importance of education in defeating one of society’s biggest issues.’

Holding beat five other shortlisted authors for the 33rd annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year, the world’s oldest and richest sports literary prize and not a single finalist on the list had won the award before.

Following Grigory Rodchenkov’s win in 2020, organisers were glad to have the event back in person and be joined by many of the authors at BAFTA in London’s Piccadilly.

This is the sixth time a cricket-related book has won the award. Football-themed books have been the most frequent winners – seven of them.

The official awards ceremony was held at the newly refurbished BAFTA on Thursday evening. Michael Holding took home the £30,000 cash prize and trophy, while shortlisted authors all received £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book.

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