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USA 2009
Directed by
Pete McCormack
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Facing Ali

Boxing has long since lost the allure it once had but Muhammad Ali remains a pop cultural icon of the 1960s. He changed his name from Cassius Clay in 1964, just after winning his first World Heavyweight Championship, became involved in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements and became a poster boy for all Americans wanting to change the established order.

Pete McCormack's documentary looks at Ali’s history through the people he fought with the exception of Sonny Liston who died of a probable drug overdose in 1970. It is not a biopic or sociological study but rather a look at the hard world of boxing, always only a step or two away from grinding poverty and crime as evidenced by the men who fought Ali. With the exception of Sir Henry Cooper, the British fighter Ali faced in 1963 and the surprisingly articulate Canadian, George Chuvalo, most of the subjects are American Negroes, uneducated men who punched their way out pf hardship and into some kind of achievement. George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and Leon Spinks amongst others all have their stories to tell and with their cauliflower ears and broken noses they all serve to demonstrate how exceptional Ali was – media savvy, verbally provocative and good-looking. Of course Ali’s end was not so glorious but it is clear from McCormack's film that he was just as he claimed, "The Greatest".

Available from: Village Roadshow




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