Muhammad Ali brings to life one of the best-known and most indelible figures of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans throughout the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace, and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it.
Born Cassius Clay, Jr., Ali rose from boxing amateur to Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight champion, just as he had promised he would at the age of twelve. He wrote his own rules –in the ring and in his life –infuriating his critics, baffling his opponents, and riveting millions of fans. He spoke his mind and stood on principle, staying true to his Islamic faith and refusing induction into the U.S. Army, even when it cost him his livelihood. Banished for his beliefs, he returned to boxing an underdog, reclaimed his title twice, and became the most famous man on earth. An intimate portrait of a larger-than-life global icon, this four-part, eight-hour documentary tells the story of an exceptional athlete whose influence transcends boxing. "He was," the novelist Norman Mailer wrote, "the very spirit of the 20th Century."
Round One: The Greatest (1942-1964)
Cassius Clay rises from amateur boxer to 1960 Olympic gold medal winner. He turns professional and moves to Miami, sharpening his boxing skills and honing his genius for self-promotion. Meanwhile, he quietly joins the Nation of Islam and becomes a confidant of Malcolm X. In 1964, he shocks the world by upsetting the heavily favored Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship.
Round Two: What's My Name? (1964-1970)
Cassius Clay joins the Nation of Islam and adopts the name Muhammad Ali. For three years, Ali dominates the heavyweight ranks but in 1967, he refuses induction into the U.S. Army and becomes one of the most reviled men in America. Ali is stripped of his title, convicted of draft evasion and forced into exile. In 1970, he triumphantly returns to the ring, but it's clear that he has lost a step.
Round Three: The Rivalry (1970-1974)
Muhammad Ali faces Joe Frazier in the "Fight of the Century." Though he loses, Ali becomes a hero. The Supreme Court overturns Ali's conviction, validating his refusal to serve in the war in Vietnam and in 1974, Ali outduels Frazier, his greatest rival, in their highly anticipated rematch. But to complete his comeback, he must face the fearsome George Foreman.
Round Four: The Rent You Pay (1974-2016)
Muhammad Ali shocks the world when he defeats George Foreman in Zaire, winning back the heavyweight title and becoming the most famous man on earth. He faces Joe Frazier in the brutal "Thrilla in Manila," and boxes for five more years. He is diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1984 but continues to travel the world spreading his Islamic faith, and becomes a symbol of peace and hope.
Producer: Sarah Burns, David McMahon, Ken Burns
Executive Producer: Ken Burns
Production Company: Florentine Films
Production Year: 2020
Copyright Year: 2021
Director: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon
Narrator: Keith David
Writers: David McMahon, Sarah Burns
Number of Discs: 4
Length: 480 minutes
Number of Episodes:4
Subtitle Languages: Spanish (SDH);English (SDH)