A Sweeping Portrait Of An Icon

Posted on Aug 20, 2021

Follow the life of one of the most consequential men of the 20th century.

This three-time heavyweight boxing champion captivated millions of fans across the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it. Ali insisted on being himself unconditionally.

An extraordinary trove of archival footage and photographs, contemporary music and the insights and memories of eyewitnesses — including family and friends, journalists, boxers and historians, among others — is drawn from. The series details the story of the athlete who called himself, and was considered by many to be, “the greatest of all time." He competed in some of the most dramatic and widely viewed sporting events ever, including “The Fight of the Century” and “The Thrilla in Manila,” both against his great rival Joe Frazier, and “The Rumble in the Jungle,” in which he defeated George Foreman to regain the heavyweight title that was stripped from him seven years earlier.

The film also captures Ali’s principled resistance to the Vietnam War, his steadfast commitment to his Muslim faith and his complex relationships with Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, who profoundly shaped his life and worldview.

While he is largely celebrated today as an icon of American sport and culture, Ali was not always widely embraced. And his story is full of contradictions. Despite his competitive reputation and ruthless athleticism in the ring, he went on to become a symbol for peace and pacifism and a global inspiration.

This four-part series airs at 7 p.m. September 19-22