Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

Watch Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

  • NR
  • 1969
  • 1 hr 51 min
  • 7.6  (702)
  • 77

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest is a remarkable biographical sports documentary that offers an intimate chronicle of the life and career of one of the most iconic and influential figures not only in the world of boxing but also in the annals of sports history and social activism—Muhammad Ali. Directed by William Klein, this film offers a compelling visual account that captures the essence of Ali's extraordinary journey both within and beyond the boxing ring.

The documentary spans across two significant periods of Ali's career, capturing the personal milestones, historic fights, and the socio-political context in which his legend was forged. Initially released in 1969 and later updated in 1974, Muhammad Ali: The Greatest features a combination of footage spanning from Ali’s early days as Cassius Clay to his evolution into Muhammad Ali, an embodiment of athletic prowess and a vocal proponent of civil rights.

Throughout the movie, the viewer experiences the early beginnings of Ali’s boxing career, set against the backdrop of the 1960s, a period fraught with racial tension and civil rights battles in the United States. It highlights his Olympic triumph and depicts his rise through the ranks of the heavyweight division to his first championship win over Sonny Liston in 1964. This fight is one of the many exhilarating boxing sequences the film presents, illustrating Ali’s prowess as a fighter and showcasing his unique style—marked by exceptional speed, agility, and the famous mantra "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

Alongside the electrifying sports action, the documentary shines a light on Ali's charismatic personality. His quick wit, self-confidence, and penchant for poetic trash talk come to the fore as he engages with the press, fans, and opponents alike. These aspects of his character illuminate the reasons for his widespread appeal and the impact he had on the public consciousness.

Significant in the timeline of the film is Ali’s conversion to Islam and his relationship with the Nation of Islam. This marked a turning point in Ali's life, as it not only transformed his identity but also found him at the center of controversies that intertwined his athletic career with societal and political issues. His subsequent refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War on grounds of his religious beliefs and moral convictions led to nationwide debate, a dramatic stripping of his title, and a ban from the sport.

It is these moments that expose the complexity of Ali's character and the documentary makes room for exploring Ali's life outside the boxing ring. It delves into the ways in which Ali’s actions intersected with the larger African American struggle for justice and equality. In this respect, the film does not shy away from presenting the polarizing effect Ali had on opinion, as he became a hero to many and a controversial figure to others.

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest also explores Ali's return to the ring after his three-and-a-half-year suspension. The viewer witnesses his quest to reclaim the heavyweight championship title, including his fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, emphasizing his resilience and unwavering determination. His legendary matches during this period would come to define the golden era of heavyweight boxing and cement his status as the "Greatest of All Time."

Featuring candid interviews and unobtrusive observational footage, the film provides an opportunity to see Ali’s interactions with his trainer Angelo Dundee, and the people around him. The personal moments give an insight into his preparation, challenges, motivations, and the mental preparation that defined his approach to his sport and life.

What stands out in the documentary is not just a celebration of Muhammad Ali's victories but also a powerful representation of his vulnerabilities and humanity. It chronicles the cost of his convictions and the toll of his career on his body but more than that, it reveals an individual willing to use his platform for a purpose greater than himself.

By combining archival footage with scenes from Ali's day-to-day life, Muhammad Ali: The Greatest serves as a vivid historical document, providing a multifaceted glimpse into a period of significant change. It is a tribute to a man who, through the force of his character and talent, came to shape an era. This film is a testament to Ali’s journey of becoming more than just a world champion boxer but a global symbol of resistance, courage, and the will to fight for one's beliefs. It is a definitive portrayal that has contributed to the enduring legacy of Muhammad Ali, a man whose influence still resonates to this day.

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest is a 1969 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 77.

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest
Where to Watch Muhammad Ali: The Greatest
Muhammad Ali: The Greatest is available to watch free on Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Muhammad Ali: The Greatest for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 51 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (702)
  • Metascore