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The life and career of Muhammad Ali (1942- ) as seen chronologically in archival footage: Ali as a fighter, a personality, a political lightening rod, and a man. Boxers who fought him describe what led up to major fights and the matches themselves; they also offer personal revelations about their own lives: George Chuvalo's family losses, George Foreman's conversion, Ken Norton's gratitude, Ron Lyle's teaching, Earnie Shaver's encounter with the Klan, and Joe Frazier's good humor pack their own punch. The fighters talk about Ali's quickness, cunning, and recuperative powers - and how fighting him changed their lives. Written by
After Ali changed it
from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, everybody else started turning to Muslim. "My name is Cooly Clala Cleely or Hooly Hooly or Walla Walla." What the fuck is that? Well, my name's Leon and there ain't nothing white about that. So what the hell?
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I have seen a lot of material regarding Muhammad Ali. Movies, clips from his greatest fights, documentaries, interviews and many, many more. This is what I was expecting when I sat down to watch 'Facing Ali'. Another documentary concerning this extraordinary man's exploits.
What I found, however, was something else. Something that kept me glued to the screen for the entirety of the film.
The premise of 'Facing Ali' is simple. Ten fighters who had traded blows with Ali during his remarkable career are interviewed. George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Larry Holmes and many other great boxers give their opinion on their fights with Ali, as well as Ali the boxer and Ali the person.
The interviews are beautifully done, with each fighter recounting their experiences, both personal and official. I found it riveting to hear each one's story. The pain and heartache each one endured to get where they were was clearly visible, as were their vivid recollections of their experiences with Ali. They say history is written by winners. This documentary identifies the men who were on the other side, who lived in the shadow that was Ali. They are no less remarkable.
The shooting style was very simple, and it worked. The interviews are interwoven with various Ali quotes and footage, as well as (of course) clips from his greatest fights over the course of his career. The whole thing comes together to keep one interested. This is no mere recollection of a great boxer's fights. It is also about Ali the man, a fighter of awesome ability, but also a man with a conflicted life, filled with hardship. This is told from the point of view of the men on the other side of his gloves.
This documentary is deserving of any praise it receives. 'Facing Ali' may have been told from the side of his opponents (phenomenal fighters and people in their own right), but it leaves little doubt - Ali was, and always will be, one of the greatest.
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