The Greatest A new documentary explores the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali
… of all time. A new Ken Burns documentary explores the life and legacy of the original G.O.A.T.
SIX YEARS IN THE MAKING and five after the heavyweight’s death, Muhammad Ali – a four-part documentary by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns – lands at PBS on Sept. 19. Burns’ direction artfully splices rare archival footage with eyewitness accounts, adding new insights from thinkers keen to view the extraordinary life of “The Greatest” through a contemporary lens, from his roots in the American South as Cassius Clay to teenage Olympic gold medallist to world heavyweight champion, including his conversion to Islam and reinvention as Muhammad Ali. The boxer famously fought the Vietnam War draft as a conscientious objector (citing religion and race) and – after being banned from the sport for three years – won his battle with the American military when his conviction was overturned. Even though Ali was hailed in 1999 as Sports Illustrated’s Greatest Sportsman of the 20th Century, Burns resists the urge to canonize his subject, recalling a time when Ali was as reviled as he was praised, and bravely diving into a complicated character more relevant today than ever before. —Rosemary Counter