When We Were Kings
(1996) Directed by Leon Gast
“Last night, I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch and was in the bed before the room was dark.” “Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick! I’m so mean I make medicine sick!” To listen to Muhammad Ali when his mind and body were at their peak is as special as seeing them in action in the ring. When We Were Kings was the first time the two were seen together at length, in a film showing The Greatest in the run-up to, and during, The Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1974. Fight highlights are extensive and there’s music from a simultaneous festival, Zaire 74. Ali talks about freedom and the African-american condition, while earning USD5 million for a bout in a country run by a murderous dictator. The best film yet on the best-ever sportsman.