He was a man driven by his ambition to be the best and against all the odds went on to become the greatest boxing fighter of all time, a sporting legend that to this day is loved throughout the world.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. first got involved in boxing at the age of 12 after being left fuming when a thief stole his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to "whup" the thief. The rest, as they say, is history.
Following an unrivalled amateur boxing career which concluded with him winning the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics Clay started his professional career. He remained unbeaten through to 1963 and as a result became the main challenger for Sonny Liston’s Heavyweight Championship title. Hailed as one of biggest upsets in boxing history Clay won the fight against all odds becoming the youngest boxer to take the World title.
Converting to Islam and changing his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 Clay courted national controversy by refusing to draft into the US army for the Vietnam War. As a result his boxing license was revoked from 1967 to 1971 and he was banned from fighting during which time he continued to voice his opposition to the war across the nation.
On having his license re-instated in 1971 Ali went on to have some of the greatest boxing matches in the history of the sport. Three gigantic battles with Joe Frazier including The Thriller in Manila, George Forman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ as well his famous clashes with the likes of Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick to name but a few. In 1978 Ali achieved the ultimate accolade by beating Leon Sinks to regain the World title for the record breaking third time. An incredible achievement that remains unsurpassed to this day.
Ali retired in 1981 after a number of fighting defeats that in many people’s eyes should have never taken place and in 1984 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However this did not stop him helping with the release of Prisoners from Iraq in 1990 or going on a peace mission trip to meet Saddam Husain. In recognition of his lifelong achievement Muhammad Ali was asked to light the Olympic Torch in Atlanta at the 1996 games. Throughout his life he remained an ambassador not only for the sport of boxing but for mankind.
Relive some of the legendary fights and explore the life of one of sport’s greatest ever icons. This documentary contains amazing archive fight footage of some of Ali’s greatest battles against the likes of Henry Cooper and Sonny Liston as well as the historic fights with George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle and Joe Frazier in the Thriller in Manila, a fight that is consistently ranked as one of the best in the sport's history.
Also included are interviews with Ali and experts from the world of boxing today, archive newsreel pre-match fight footage as well as footage from key events in Ali’s life. From winning his gold medal at the Olympics at the age of 18, to his retirement in 1981, the lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996 up to and beyond being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honour in 2005.
This fascinating programme offers an in-depth look at the life and times of one of the greatest Sportsmen of all time; this is the story of Muhammad Ali.
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