WHEN WE WERE KINGS

(1996)

Esquire (UK) - - Esquire Sport 2017 - 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 $5m for a bout in a coun­try run by a mur­der­ous dic­ta­tor. The best film yet on the best-ever sports­man.

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