‘Cassius Clay’ transformed to ‘Muhammed Ali’, but it was just not about his inclination towards the holy ‘Nation of Islam’. It was much more than that. ‘Ali’ was all about character. ‘Ali’ defined self esteem, he idolized discipline and embodied the true spirit of the game called ‘Boxing’. And personally, I feel that he was, undoubtedly, the phenomenal force behind the popularity of the heavyweight championships. ‘Facing Ali’ has some legendary snapshots of his most mercurial fights with ‘Joe Frazier’, ‘Liston I-III’ and ‘George Foreman’. It also talks and visualizes the ‘Fight of The Century’ with ‘Joe Frazier’, which is incidentally one amongst the five losses that he suffered during his entire tenure in the golden ring. His unorthodox style, his boastful yet emphatic phrase of ‘I Am The Greatest’ and his impeccable attitude towards the game is truly legendary.
I cannot term ‘Facing Ali’ as a biopic. Neither can it be considered as a documentary. For me, it is a narration of one of the most prolific and iconic figures in sporting history, from his most revered contemporaries who have witnessed and known ‘Muhammed Ali’ as a fighter, a sportsman, an ambassador and above all, a fine human being.
‘Facing Ali’ is not motivating, it is an enchanting saga of arguably the greatest heavyweight champion this world has ever known. And, it is not only about ‘Ali’ and his exploits in the ring, but outside the boxing fraternity, where he became a role model to an entire generation.
The most striking aspect of ‘Facing Ali’ is when his opponents talk about their own encounters with ‘Ali’, and when I hear phrases like ‘A fight with Ali gave me honour, clothes and good food to my children’ and ‘He is a perfect example to the broken myth that a fighter cannot be a gentleman’ is staggering. When your opponents bestow that kind of a respect on you, then I guess, I have to admit that ‘Muhammed Ali’ was undoubtedly the greatest human being to have fought and conquered the world of heavyweight championships.
Post ‘Facing Ali’, I have realized that there will always be only one ‘Muhammed Ali’ and history will hail him as one of the giants in the annals of the sporting extravaganza.