Muhammad Ali’ four-part documentary highlights life, legacy of the champ

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Muhammad Ali, 1978, during an impromptu news conference at the front steps of New York City Hall. ([Photo by Wayne Dawkins/Trans Urban News Service])
By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

“Muhammad Ali,” a four-part, eight-hour documentary by Ken Burns, premiered Sept. 19 on PBS and concluded Sept. 23. 

 

“Come for the boxing, the politics, the religion or conflict,” said Burns, who directed a dozen-plus films, including the Civil War, baseball, jazz and the Central Park Five. Cassius Clay of Louisville, Ky., renamed Ali when he converted to Islam, was a brash, bold, hilarious, principled and polarizing figure of the 1960s and 70s. 

“Service is the rent you pay for your room in heaven,” said Ali.

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He won the heavyweight boxing title, then was stripped of it when he refused to join the military and go to fight the war in Vietnam. Ali almost went to prison, but he won an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Ali regained his title after two epic battles with Joe Frazier, plus fellow titans George Foreman and Ken Norton. 

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) is an American icon and hero. He compelled Burns to take a new look with 21st century eyes. If you missed the broadcasts, catch the series on pbs.org 

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