LeBron James, HBO begin production on new Muhammad Ali documentary
Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, is photographed at a chalkboard on the day of his Nov. 15, 1962, fight against Archie Moore. Ali defeated Moore in four rounds.(CSUN Archives)
The Beatles (from left) Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami, Fla., on Feb. 18, 1964.(AP)
Muhammad Ali playfully throws a fist at the camera while promoting his fight against George Foreman in Zaire in October 1974.(Howard Bingham)
LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment will begin production on a multi-part HBO documentary on the life of Muhammad Ali, the premium network and the NBA champion announced Monday.
Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “The Magnificent Seven”) will also serve as executive producer of a documentary that intends to “explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, painting an intimate portrait of a man who, against all odds, dreamed and achieved the impossible, over and over again,” according to an HBO statement.
“Muhammad Ali is indisputably one of the most iconic and distinctive figures in the history of world sports,” said Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax programming.
“His impact resonates far beyond the boxing ring and is woven deep into the cultural and social tapestry of the second half of the 20th century. From the moment LeBron James told us of his deep visceral connection to Ali’s life and legacy, we were committed to helping him realize this film, and our enthusiasm has only grown as Antoine Fuqua has developed his compelling cinematic vision for telling one man’s incredible journey.”
Ali died June 3 at age 74 after winning the heavyweight title three times, engaging in an epic trilogy against Joe Frazier, defeating George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” rejecting the Vietnam War draft and standing as one of the most well-known people in the world.
“It’s tough to put into words how much it means to me to be a part of this project honoring the legacy and telling the extremely important story of the great Muhammad Ali,” James said in the HBO announcement.
“He transcended sports and used his platform to empower people, which paved the way for all athletes and people of every race and gender that came after him, myself included. It’s important that his story continues for generations to come, and it’s an honor to be a part of this.”
Promising never-before-seen photos with cooperation from Ali’s estate and family, the series “will combine archival footage and gorgeous, cinematic recreations that will transport viewers into the ring and at home,” according to the statement.
“We are at a perfect time in history, and in our lives as Americans, to welcome this special documentary on Muhammad,” Ali’s wife, Lonnie, said in the statement.
“This documentary will have national and global appeal. I’m hopeful this documentary will engage the audience in a similar way Muhammad engaged his audience and fans. Without a doubt, Muhammad’s life journey provides simple, yet extraordinary lessons for all of us, with perhaps the most important one being, to see and embrace the humanity in all people.”
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