People can say what they want about Muhummad Ali (Marcellus Cassius Clay) and as he once said himself "They say that the Concorde jet may soon be retired, but jets will continue to fly, and once I retire boxers will continue to box, but they will always remember the Greatest". Ali's legacy is more than what he was able to accomplish in the ring over a 21 year (1960-1981) professional boxing career. Ali's legacy will live on through the many books and documentaries such as I Am Ali.
This documentary on the life and legend of Muhummad Ali was developed with the contributions of Ali's personal audio library. It certainly reflects the extraordinary appeal that Ali exuded with not only his loyal fans, but more importantly with his children, his wives and even his greatest and toughest opponents. Ali liked to tape his telephone conversations with his children when he was away from them, and he told his children when they were older that they would grow to appreciate these intimate conversations by telephone with the passing of time and with their own maturity. My own personal opinion on why Ali may have taped these intimate telephone conversations with his children was because he may have been weary that just like the fate that struck great men such as Martin Luther King, the Kennedy brothers and even John Lennon, Ali may have feared that his mortality was imminent and that he could be assassinated at any time for his outspokenness against the war in Vietnam, for his love and pride for his black heritage and for finding the Muslim religion. Thank goodness for the worlds people that Ali continued to fight, and he continued to send his message and share his love and passion for family, as this documentary reflects.
As his children said in this film, my father Ali may have fathered many children from different wives, and girlfriends, but he never hid his infidelities and he insisted that all his children periodically meet with one another for family gatherings when he was not boxing or training. Even his ex-wives expressed their love for Ali and that he was a man apart from all others. And what he said he meant.
I have watched countless hours of historical footage on Ali and although this may not be as good a documentary as the 1997 documentary Muhummad Ali The Whole Story, I still gleaned new information about this boxing legend regarding the great respect opponents such as Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Cleveland Brown football icon Jim Brown had for Ali. George Foreman's comments about his "rumble in the jungle" in Zaire Africa are priceless. George explains that during this fight he pounded on Ali mercilessly for six rounds (and George was in his fighting prime) and what does Ali do at the start of the seventh round? He whispers in George's ear during a clench, "is that all you got George?". George tells the camera now that "yeah, that was just about all I had" and then he laughs about the incident. These are the insights that many Ali fans love to hear about and this film has several that are worth watching from the mouths of his family members and closest friends.
Ali is to this day still the most recognizable face around the world, and even with his speech impediment caused by 30 plus years of living with the debilitating Parkinson disease Ali still makes personal appearances when he is feeling up to it. Everyone seems to have a story or two about Muhummad Ali, a memory from bygone years of a great fight such as the Thrilla in Manila, or the Rumble in the Jungle, but one day hopefully while Ali is still alive one of the major movie or television studios will agree to produce a deserving 10-12 part mini series on the life of Cassius Marcellus Clay/Muhummad Ali from his early childhood, through his 21 year boxing career, and his subsequent living with Parkinson disease. I believe this mini-series would break all previous television viewing records.
I rate this documentary an 8 out of 10. Ali is who he is, but in many peoples' minds Ali "IS" and always will be "The Greatest!"