He was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, but despite some iconic lines and knowing he was a legend of the sport, I knew shockingly little about the legend.
So given the opportunity to check out a documentary I was in.
Muhammad Ali as a documentary is most easily summarized by my wife at the end of the first Bluray. When I asked her what she thought so far she replied with one word. Thorough. This is an incredibly fair assessment, and exactly what I was feeling. Over 4 Bluray discs there is about 8 hours of documentary here so you will see a lot of his life.
Now length isn’t always a good thing, so that number on its own could be a good thing or a bad thing. The good news is the vast majority of it is well earned and worth it’s time. The documentary starts with his early life and how it led into boxing, before displaying the massive and chaotic life that is Muhammad Ali’s career.
One thing I never appreciated was just how much of a smack talker he was. In many ways he reminds me of Colin McGregor today, except much more likable.
He would say cocky things, and tell everyone how amazing he was, but he was also fighting the obvious racism of his day. The process of converting to a Muslim obviously didn’t help things. I mean look at how black people or Muslims are treated today, well it was the bloody 60’s. Unsurprisingly he was up against it all.
One thing I never really appreciated was his conviction to his beliefs. He was a draft dodger for religious reasons, and he was so close to going to prison for so long. I would have buckled long before he did, and up until he almost got sent there he was steadfast in his convictions. It is so easy to see sports as their own bubble alongside world events, but that was not the case for our dear Muhammad.
The documentary, while thorough, is never lacking in interest. We get his family talking, Don King talking, \ journalists, etc. It is a thorough covering of the major events of his life from the people most qualified to tell the story. Sometimes it is glamorous, sometimes it isn’t. But these nuances are what makes a 4 disc marathon worth watching. By not pulling punches at times, it really gives authenticity to the story, and as such you feel like you are really getting a slice of this man’s life.
Muhammad Alli is an incredible documentary about an incredible man who overcame some massive challenges to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. He might not always be the hero, but he is always fascinating, and has a story worth experiencing. All 8ish hours of it.