By Darlene Donloe
“I am the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was.” ---Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is one of the most beloved public figures of all time. His popularity transcends age, race, gender, geography or political views. He’s loved the world over and for good reason. He has a great personality, he’s funny, he’s a great athlete, he stands by his convictions, he’s affable, fun-loving and, of course, he’ll tell you in a minute that he is pretty. And, he’d be right.
For decades we’ve gotten a glimpse inside of his world. We watched as he sparred in training camps, conducted legendary interviews with Howard Cosell and fought like no one before him and no one since.
In the documentary, I Am Ali, currently in theaters, the curtain is pulled back on the legendary heavyweight champ’s personal life. Yes, there have been plenty of docs and even 2001’s ‘Ali,’ a feature film starring Will Smith in the title role, but none have been as eye-opening as I Am Ali.
Directed by Clare Lewins, it’s a revealing portrait of the legendary boxer complete with interviews from the people closest to him, including his son Muhammad Ali Jr., who reveals how difficult it is to live up to his namesake, his ex-wife (Veronica Porsche), his daughters (Maryum and Hana) and the associates who worked with him over the years. Porsche had to hold back tears as she talked about her life with Ali and his current battle with Parkinson’s disease. We also hear from his brother, Rahman, who remembers how Ali told him when they were kids that he would become the most famous man in the world.
The documentary is peppered with actual vintage audio recordings of Ali’s phone calls with his children. The recordings are used as interludes. They are sweet, poignant and say much about who Ali is as a man. They paint the picture of a man in love with his children.
The doc highlights his boxing career. It includes special moments, including the relationship he had with Joe Frazier and George Foreman who, based on his glowing assessment of Ali as a fighter and a man, had nothing but respect for the boxer. Former was half of the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle.” He calls Ali, “the greatest man I ever met.”
Joe Frazier’s son, Marvis Frazier says that his father and Ali made peace shortly before Joe’s death.
If you were a fan of Ali’s before seeing the documentary, you’ll probably be an even bigger fan. If you are not a fan of Ali’s, you will be after watching this tremendous documentary.
I Am Ali is written and directed by Clare Lewins, produced by Lewins, George Chignell and Gred Hobden, executive produced by John Battsek and Simon Chinn.
I Am Ali is Rated PG; Running time: 114 min.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), I Am Ali gets an E (excellent).