Archive for October 12th, 2021

PBS’ Muhammad Ali Is a Monument tothe Strength and Sacrifice of the Greatest Athlete Who Ever Lived

October 12, 2021

PBS’ Muhammad Ali Is a Monument tothe Strength and Sacrifice of the Greatest Athlete Who Ever Lived

The iconic heavyweight boxing champion is the subject of a new four-part documentary.

ByJay Connor


Image for article titled PBS' Muhammad Ali Is a Monument to the Strength and Sacrifice of the Greatest Athlete Who Ever Lived
Image: PBS

There’s a lot to love about Ken Burns’ latest creation: the gripping PBS documentary, Muhammad Ali.

Taking cues from Burns’ award-winning forays into Black triumph that proceeded this one—such as 2005’s Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and 2016’s Jackie Robinson—Muhammad Ali offers a refreshing take on the titular character’s well-documented journey of faith and repositions arguably the greatest athlete of all-time as not only a generational talent, but an integral component of American history.

Throughout the course of this four-part odyssey, there are plenty of moments that most of us are acutely aware of thanks to a seemingly endless succession of films that have mined Ali’s plight for Hollywood gold. But where Muhammad Ali departs from predecessors like Regina King’s One Night In Miami, Will Smith’s Ali, or Antoine Fuqua’s What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali is its access to archival footage that other filmmakers can only dream of obtaining and its commitment to sheer scope. Instead of attempting to shovel 74 years of courage and contradictions into a single sitting, his legacy is given ample room to breathe and is explored over the course of nearly eight hours of riveting cinema.

“Our desire was very mindful of the fact there are many, many wonderful documentaries about Muhammad Ali,” Burns told The Root. “But none of them—we felt—were comprehensive in the kind of work that we like to do.”

In the first chapter, “Round One: The Greatest,” we’re introduced to Cassius Clay, the brash demeanor that would define him, and the amateur boxing circuit that bred a cultural icon. In subsequent chapters, we bear witness to his conversion to Islam, his eventual standoff with the U.S. Army, and his continued quest to use his platform to be in service to Black progress. Much like Martin Luther King Jr., that pledge has since been contorted by those who seek to revise history and dilute his ambitions to suit their own personal agendas, but Muhammad Ali captures the three-time heavyweight champion in all of his unapologetic glory.

And yes, while much of it feels like riding a bike for the first time in over a decade, there are still plenty of little-known trivia answers that the film introduces to the world. Case in point, during Ali’s amateur career he was so scared of flying that he wore a military parachute during his flight to the Olympic trials. And after winning the competition, instead of flying back home to Louisville, Ky., he pawned off one of his prizes—a watch—in order to purchase a train ticket so that he could get back home. Other revelations include Zaire’s (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) dictator Mobutu Sese confiscating George Foreman’s passport in order to ensure that “The Rumble in the Jungle” went on without a hitch, Ali’s affinity for performing magic tricks for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and the boxing legend receiving a decapitated dog in the mail—with a letter that read: “We know how to handle black draft-dodging dogs in Georgia”—in order to deter him from returning to the ring in 1970.

Whether you’re brand new, vaguely familiar, or acutely aware of Ali’s story, the comprehensive nature of this film ensures that there’s plenty of magic and meat on the bone for every appetite—insatiable or otherwise. For fans of the sweet science, there’s a treasure trove of fight footage and a meticulous breakdown (it even gets its own chapter) of his bitter rivalry with his archnemesis, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier. For those curious about how his family and religion informed his purpose and unwavering principles, that’s in this documentary, too. And for those curious to learn how the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage winner navigated his final years while at the mercy of Parkinson’s Disease, this film unveils those challenges as well.

In closing, Muhammad Ali truly floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. It also serves as a timely reminder that even though Ali has long since left this physical plane, his strength and sacrifice will endure forever.

Muhammad Ali airs from Sept. 19-22 exclusively on PBS.Subscribe to our newsletter!Black news, opinions, politics and cultureType

Outside of the lee apologist in his civil war doc Burns continues to be the goat documentary maker, glad he did justice to Ali here.


October 12, 2021

Wizkid’s ‘Made In Lagos’ hits one billion streams in under one year of release
This accounts for streams across all platforms.

On October 10, 2021, news broke that Grammy-winning Nigerian superstar, WIzkid’s groundbreaking album, Made In Lagos, had hit one billion streams across all streaming platforms.

This comes in less than year of release, during which the album has also become the highest charting African album on the Billboard 200 yet. The album has 322 million streams on Apple Music, 229 million streams on Spotify, 227 million streams on YouTube, over 140 million streams on Audiomack.
A few weeks ago, it was announced that ‘Essence’ alone had over 80 million streams on Apple Music.


October 12, 2021

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