In 1977, Tom Gries and Monte Hellman produced a film called 'The Greatest' that would provide the inspiration for a string of Muhammed Ali based films and documentaries, such as 'When We Were Kings' (1996), 'Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story' (1996) and 'Ali' (2001) starring household names Will Smith and Jamie Foxx.
Unfortunately a lack of depth and accuracy was seen to plague these tributes, with a general consensus that the films didn't live up to the personality and character of a man who many consider to be the greatest boxers of all time.
Now, Clare Lewins may have topped the lot with her new movie 'I am Ali', providing a deeper look into 'the man behind the legend', according to reports.
Ali and his children
With very little left to reveal about Ali's boxing career, Lewins explores his family life and, in particular, the relationship he has with his nine children, through personal messages and recordings Ali left with them over the years.
An interview with Ali's eldest daughter Maryum revealed he felt very strongly about his children controlling these recordings.
"Trunks, gloves, the kids don't really own anything; we'd have to go on eBay and buy it," she said.
"These tapes were the only things where he said, 'I want my kids to have this and no one else.'"
Ali gave 80 hours of tape recordings to his daughter Hana, who has allowed 12 minutes of selected recording to be used in 'I Am Ali', and the family are very pleased with the different angle that Lewins has taken to convey his life.
"Most journalists did not see the value in his children; they were so stuck on the sport and the social activism," Maryum said.
"At the end of the day after every fight, every headline, was the family, and he confided in us and talked to us.
"This is the first movie where people can relate to him as a father. That's hard to do when you have ex-wives who are scorned, who are mad, who are upset. He had to deal with a lot of the negativity coming from the women.
"It's not a movie that says he's a perfect person. It shows a man in his evolution. It's the essence of my dad's spirit that protrudes out of the screen."
'I Am Ali' shows a contrast, not only between Ali's career and his family life, but also between an aspirational young man with his life ahead of him, and a caring man at the end of his career, as shown in some more recent footage of people who knew the man, such as Malcolm X, Tom Jones, and co-boxers George Foreman and Mike Tyson.
Although many who have followed the life of Ali will not find much in the film to enhance their knowledge, they will see the life of a legend from an entirely different, and more personal, perspective.
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