Top 6 Movies Inspired By The Life Of Muhammad Ali

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The Greatest Of All Time, Muhammad Ali, the one who shook the world while floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee in everyone of his fighting bouts in and out of the ring, left the world Friday, 3rd of June, 2016 after a respiratory problem which was worsened by his 32 year long fight with Parkinson’s disease.

The champ was known to the world as the greatest that’s ever lived especially in the game of boxing. He was the undisputed champion of the world. He was the people’s champion – as he fought in the ring, he fought for civil rights as well side by side. Known for his amazing word play(he was an amazing lyricist) and skillful mind games against his opponents – fast talking Ali never got tired of fighting. It was always about ‘Me, We’. Diagnosed a dyslexic as a young man, it never deterred the defiant enigma who inspired millions, and billions more, years to come.  Muhammad Ali is a name that brings the spirit of ‘Yes, You Can’.

From Movies, through to music to pop culture, Ali resonates with all. Here are six movies inspired by the amazing legend.

6. The Greatest

‘The Greatest’ portrayed a very dramatic part of Muhammad Ali’s Life.

The Greatest included a real fight footage in the 1977 movie which portrays Muhammad Ali’s life from the 1960 Olympics to his early 1970s title fights.

Ernest Borgnine played Angelo Dundee and James Earl Jones played Malcolm X.

Muhammed Ali and a floored George Foreman during ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ which took place in Kinshasa, Zaire.

5. Rocky 2

Sylvester Stallone was inspired by Muhammad Ali’s 1975 bout against the number one contender at that time Chuck Wepner but the twist in the movie is that it was not the character of Rocky Balboa that drew inspiration from the legendary Muhammad Ali, it was his opponent Apollo Creed.

Muhammad Ali said after watching the sequel to the original film:
“That’s me, all right. Apollo sounds like me. Insulting the opponent in the press, to get him psyched out. That’s me exactly.”

Muhammad Ali initially disapproved of Rocky Balboa being portrayed as a white actor on screen, and his own image being presented as the antagonist. Nonetheless, at the 1977 Oscars, he had a mock bout against Stallone where he announced, “I’m the real Apollo Creed. You stole my script.”

READ: Some Of Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Sayings

Muhammad Ali wall painting
Muhammad Ali wall painting

4. I Am Ali

This really was an interesting movie because it showed another side of Muhammad Ali the world hadn’t really seen. Ali’s daughter Hana claimed that the legendary boxer enjoyed the film since it exhibited his ‘loving side.’

The  documentary which was released in 2014 focused on behind the scenes footage and a series of audio recordings that were made throughout his lifetime  – showing a picture of what Muhammad Ali was like outside the boxing ring. It furthermore included a time in Muhammad Ali’s life when, as a 12-year-old, his bicycle was stolen and his decision to take up boxing to avenge the theft.

READ: Meet Muhammad Ali: The Boy Whose Bike Got Stolen And Became The G.O.A.T.


READ: The Life Of Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) In Pixels

3.The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Yet another documentary which was released one year earlier than the former, The 2013 documentary focused on Muhammad Ali’s exploits outside the ring. The trials of Muhammad Ali was essentially woven around the time the champ was hitting his prime. It also touched on Cassius Clay’s decision to convert to Islam and become Muhammad Ali. It then circles on Ali becoming one of the most controversial figures in history when he refused to join the US army at the Vietnam War and stripped of all his boxing titles and public acknowledgement as well as his charged to pay a fine of $10,000 dollars. Some other things included are Muhammad Ali’s motivational speeches and humanitarian work against racism.


2. Ali

This was a biographical movie and it had Will Smith (one of his finest roles on screen) playing Muhammad Ali.

The 2001 movie follows  the journey of the pugilist from his first heavyweight championship bout against Sonny Liston, to the historic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight in Kinshasa and his fights with Joe Frazier as well as his marriages and team behind the champ. Astonishing enough Will Smith had initially rejected the role, but agreed when Muhammad Ali personally approached the actor and requested him to play the role. The film earned Smith nominations in both the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in the Michael Mann directed movie, Ali.
Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in the Michael Mann directed movie, Ali.

1.When We Were Kings

This was entirely based on the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ 1974 heavyweight championship match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.

The  documentary released in 1996 starts off with the build-up to the big fight in Kinshasa. Ali is shown expressing his beliefs about Africans and African-Americans. The documentary also includes interviews with journalists and filmmakers who were present to watch the match alongside specific events from the historic match itself. This documentary won several Academy awards.

Muhammad Ali and Denzel Washington
Muhammad Ali and Denzel Washington

ICYMI  – READ & Watch: The Thrilla In Manila And More: Watch Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fights

Have you seen any of the movies above, share your thoughts.

The Greatest of All Time


"Tega is a writer/OAP, Lover of all things Tech, Sports and TV Series"

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