Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Facing Ali

Pete McCormack's Facing Ali (2009) is fantastic! Tonight, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Cassius Clay (soon thereafter to become Muhammad Ali) vs. Sonny Liston heavyweight fight in Miami, seems like a fitting time to cover it. 

This fascinating documentary looks at Ali from the perspective of ten of his major rivals in the ring. It serves spotlight cultural history, personal and sports history and riveting real life drama, woven together in a very cool, absorbing way (music and intertitles included).

Four of the ten participant boxers have since died, making Facing Ali all the more poignant and powerful. 

The ten, each of whom has something major to say -- underscored by brief discussions of their backgrounds and aspirations -- respond to Muhammad Ali (b. January 17, 1942) in complicated ways, even as they go over their together time in the ring. In alphabetical order, they are:

George Chuvalo (b. 1937)
Sir Henry Cooper (1934-2011) 
George Foreman (b. 1949)
Joe Frazier (1944-2011)
Larry Holmes (b. 1949)
Sonny Liston (ca. 1929-1970 -- archival footage)
Ron Lyle (1941-2011)
Ken Norton (1943-2013)
Earnie Shavers (b. 1945)
Leon Spinks (b. 1953)
Ernie Terrell (b. 1939)

I tell you, even if you have no interest in boxing, even if you hate boxing and think it's barbaric, this is an astonishing documentary. In fact, I just bought a copy on sale so I can see it again and spread the word.

Today's Rune: Fertility.   


Charles Gramlich said...

This does look good. I did watch the Ali biopic with Will Smith, but I never made a close study of how accurate it was.

Muhammad Ali said...

according to some of his opponents " facing him in the ring can b the worst nightmare for you"