Stephen Frears explores Muhammad Ali's legal battle to clear his name as a draft dodger in Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight
Slowed down by illness and age, Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxer the world has ever seen, is now a shambling shadow of his former self. But thanks to archive footage in the British filmmaker Stephen Frears’s HBO docu-drama, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, the young, virile and voluble champion of old was resurrected in Cannes last week. And just by being himself, he set the screen alight.
Following his defeat of the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Sonny Liston, in 1964 (“I showed the world,” shouted the cocksure 22-year-old in triumph), the boxer revealed that he had joined the Nation of Islam. Henceforth, he would no longer be known by his “slave name”, Cassius Clay, but as Muhammad Ali. Now a Muslim pledged to peace, Ali refused to be drafted into the US military because he was opposed to the Vietnam War
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