Muhammad Ali: An American Misconception
Sunday night I watched the HBO Sports in the 20th Century Documentary titled Thrilla in Manila. It tells the story of one of the most bitter sports rivalries ever, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. It was refreshing to see an accurate portrayal of Muhammad Ali and the person that he was and is. Since Ali was before my time, all I know of the man is he is widely considered the greatest boxer of all time and perhaps the greatest athlete of all time. A man so beloved he was given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996. The documentary painted a VERY different picture at times. Some of the more eye-opening material:
– The documentary compares the Militant organization the Nation of Islam, of which Ali is a member and credits his conversion, to the Ku Klux Klan, stating that both have similar beliefs. In an interview in the documentary, Ali himself even bragged about once speaking at a Klan rally.
-Ali and Joe Frazier were friends at one time. Joe Frazier continued to support (even monatarily) Ali during the 3 year time period when Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and had his boxing license revoked because of his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war for religious purposes. However, when Ali regained his license and agreed to fight Frazier, Ali (without a given explanation) started taunting Frazier. In 1973, Ali attacked Frazier and called him an “Uncle Tom” saying he held him in lower regard than he did white people.
-Ali was seen on camera and in public with Veronica Porsche, a women who he was having an affair with at the time. Later, when Ali’s then wife Belinda Ali found out that not only was Ali carrying on this affair but was introducing Veronica as his wife, she flew to the Philippines to confront him (side note: Ali has been married 4 times and has 9 children with 6 different women).
All in All, it is a really interesting documentary and certainly worth watching if you are a boxing fan, especially if Ali was a little before your time. You might come away with a slightly different opinion of him then you had before…