Often called “The Greatest of All Time,” Muhammad Ali became a monumental figure in American history for reasons that streched far beyond his athleticism in the ring. By the time of his passing at the age 74, he was an Olympic gold medalist, three-time heavyweight champion, a Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, a father of nine, and so much more.
It takes seeing footage of the legend, and hearing his booming voice, to really feel the impact of the legend. Thankfully, a stunning new four-part documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon is bringing us just that in all its glory! “Muhammad Ali” is on its way to PBS this Sunday September 19 at 8/7c, and you won’t want to miss it.
Ali captured the hearts of millions around the world with his precision and power in the ring, and his charm and grace outside of the ring. Through this film, viewers will be able to experience Ali’s perseverance, power, and daily respect for the training it took to become the greatest. He began boxing at the tender age of 12, and kept at it. He became the youngest boxer to dethrone an incumbent heavyweight champion when he beat Sonny Liston, hardly a minute into the first round. When he was only 18 years old, he made winning seem so effortless when he beat opponent after opponent in the 1960 Olympics in Rome to win gold. He went on to become the first boxer to win a heavyweight title three times.
Activism was just as much part of Ali’s identity as boxing was. As a black man, he fought racism like an opponent in the ring. He was an unapologetic legend, whose matter-of-fact quotes always let you know where he stood. He once said: “I’m always going to be one black one who got big on your white televisions, on your white newspapers, on your satellites, million dollar jets, and still look good in your face and tell you the truth, and one hundred percent represent my people and not leave em and sell em out because I’m rich…” In fact, the legend initially began fighting as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., before his thoughts on the tumultuous racial history in America eventually led him to rename himself what we all call him now: Muhammad Ali.
See “Muhammad Ali” weave the story of the legend’s unforgettable history when you watch the film beginning this Sunday September 19th at 8/7c on PBS!