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A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.



(story), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
3,596 ( 241)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cassius Clay / Cassius X / Muhammad Ali


In 1964, a brash new pro boxer, fresh from his olympic gold medal victory, explodes on to the scene, Cassius Clay. Bold and outspoken, he cuts an entirely new image for African Americans in sport with his proud public self confidence with his unapologetic belief that he is the greatest boxer of all time. To his credit, he sets out to prove that with his highly agile and forceful style soon making him a formidable boxer who soon claims the heavyweight championship. His personal life is no less noteworthy with his allegiance to the Nation of Islam, his friendship with the controversial Malcolm X and his abandonment of his slave name in favour of Muhammad Ali stirring up controversy. Yet, at the top of his game, both Ali's personal and professional lives face the ultimate test with the military draft rules are changed, making him eligible for military induction during the Vietnam War. Despite the fact that he could easily agree to a sweetheart deal that would have meant an easy tour of ... Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Forget What You Think You Know See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

25 December 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Али  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$107,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,216,625 (USA) (21 December 2001)


$58,183,966 (USA) (8 February 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As the project lay in "development hell" for more than a decade, several directors attempted to make the film until Michael Mann was finally chosen. The list included: Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, and Norman Jewison. Oliver Stone was commissioned as the project's director at one point. Stone's very first choice for the role of Muhammad Ali was Denzel Washington. However, when Washington signed on to another boxer biopic, The Hurricane (1999), Stone opted to instead make Any Given Sunday (1999). "The Hurricane" was made by Norman Jewison in the end. Spike Lee had previously directed Denzel Washington (Stone's original choice for Ali when he was in talks to direct) in the movie Malcolm X. See more »


When Ali is jogging in the very first scene, there's an '87 Taurus in the background, and a '90s vintage car in the carport. See more »


Judge Ingraham: Are you prepared to apologize about your un-patriotic remarks about the war?
Muhammad Ali: No.
Judge Ingraham: No? You say you are the people's champion.
Muhammad Ali: Yes, sir.
Judge Ingraham: Do you think you're acting like you're the people's champion?
Muhammad Ali: Yes, sir. I am not going to apologize to you. This is not a courtroom and I do not have to sit here and answer your questions.
[he gets up and leaves]
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, as the main title fades away the A of Ali lasts a little longer than the other two letters. See more »


Featured in HBO First Look: Ali (2001) See more »


Death Letter
Written and Performed by Johnny Farmer
Courtesy of Fat Possum Records LLC
Published by Big Legal Mess
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Poetry! Rewrites the book on filmic storytelling
14 May 2002 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

A certain kind of critical response kept me away from this film when it was in theatrical release, and I should have known better! Michael Mann is one of the most original storytellers working in film today, and his sensibility is absolutely in sync with his subject here. Muhammad Ali always did it his way, and from the brilliant opening sequence (which breaks all kinds of rules of time and space) to the last scene, that's what Mann does, and with great style, as ever. Of course if an audience demands a literal drama, they might not catch the poetry Mann and his team create with sound and picture. Will Smith is outstanding as Ali, vocally and visually, Jon Voight is a unbelievably convincing Howard Cosell, and Mario Van Peebles is subtle and moving as Malcom X.

27 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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A naive question perhaps, but... Polygraph
Those Chinese guys thanking him.... edmond_yn
Nae of the song at the beginning bigk_wallace
Probably the hugest piece of failed Oscar bait jkikianis
Help with a song R.Kelly - Hold on filip-ng007
Opening Scene? lisalake17-918-459492
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