The “Greatest of All Time” is getting the HBO treatment. The cabler is partnering with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and LeBron James for a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali.
The as yet-untitled documentary, which will explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, has started production. It hails from James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. No air date has been set.
“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. “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.”
Said Fuqua, “Muhammad Ali meant many things to many people, and he is someone who had a deep impact on me from an early age. Being given the opportunity to tell his story, both inside and outside of the ring, is a privilege, and a dream come true.”
Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.
His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.
Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.
But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain.
Ali was as polarizing a superstar as the sports world has ever produced — both admired and vilified in the 1960s and ’70s for his religious, political and social stances. His refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, his rejection of racial integration at the height of the civil rights movement, his conversion from Christianity to Islam and the changing of his “slave” name, Cassius Clay, to one bestowed by the Nation of Islam, were perceived as serious threats by the conservative establishment and noble acts of defiance by the liberal opposition.
Loved or hated, he remained for 50 years one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
In later life Ali became something of a secular saint, a legend in soft focus. He was respected for having sacrificed more than three years of his boxing prime and untold millions of dollars for his antiwar principles after being banished from the ring; he was extolled for his un-self-conscious gallantry in the face of incurable illness, and he was beloved for his accommodating sweetness in public.
That passive image was far removed from the exuberant, talkative, vainglorious 22-year-old who bounded out of Louisville, Ky., and onto the world stage in 1964 with an upset victory over Sonny Liston to become the world champion. The press called him the Louisville Lip. He called himself the Greatest.
Ali also proved to be a shape-shifter — a public figure who kept reinventing his persona.
As a bubbly teenage gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he parroted America’s Cold War line, lecturing a Soviet reporter about the superiority of the United States. But he became a critic of his country and a government target in 1966 with his declaration “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong.”
“He lived a lot of lives for a lot of people,” said the comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. “He was able to tell white folks for us to go to hell.”
If there was a supertitle to Ali’s operatic life, it was this: “I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want.” He made that statement the morning after he won his first heavyweight title. It informed every aspect of his life, including the way he boxed.
The traditionalist fight crowd was appalled by his style; he kept his hands too low, the critics said, and instead of allowing punches to “slip” past his head by bobbing and weaving, he leaned back from them.
Eventually his approach prevailed. Over 21 years, he won 56 fights and lost five. His Ali Shuffle may have been pure showboating, but the “rope-a-dope” — in which he rested on the ring’s ropes and let an opponent punch himself out — was the stratagem that won the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in 1974, the fight in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in which he regained his title.
Boxing icon Muhammad Ali (pictured) was released from a hospital Tuesday night after being admitted nearly three weeks ago with what was presumed to be pneumonia. Now it is being reported that the champ was being treated for a severe urinary tract infection, according to NBC News.
The 72-year-old, three-time world heavyweight champ also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological illness that has practically stilled his voice and slowed his movements for the last 30 years.
Reportedly, Ali is back home with his family and is now looking forward to celebrating his 73rd birthday on January 17. Ali’s spokesperson, Bob Gunnell told ESPN, “He’s in great spirits and enjoying being back home.” Gunnell said. “He’s back in his daily routine.”
Even though Ali’s public profile has been low over the last few years, he still manages to get out every now and then. Last September Ali was spotted at an outing where he sat in the bleachers supporting his grandson, Biaggio Ali Walsh, as the latter played football alongside Cordell Broadus, the son of famed rapper, Snoop Dogg. The two young players with famous bloodlines are reportedly stellar gridiron athletes with scholarship potential.
Meanwhile, according to Gunnell, the Ali family is thankful for the show of love and support for the champ from well-wishers everywhere. “The Ali family greatly appreciates the outpouring of support and continued well wishes. They also want to thank the team of doctors and nurses for their exceptional care,” he said.
Sylvester Stallone’s fictional character, Rocky Balboa, in the memorable film, “Rocky” is what many will conjure up when they think about a Philadelphia-born prizefighter, but the City of Brotherly Love is working on changing that. Artist Stephen Layne is in the final stages of completing a 9-foot tall, 1,800-pound clay sculpture of the late boxing great Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier as a tribute to the hometown champ, according Fox 23.
The former World heavyweight champ, who passed away three years ago at age 67 from liver cancer, was actually born in Beaufort, South Carolina but settled in Philly and called the city home.
The statue project came to fruition two years ago but there were stumbling blocks along the way. The original sculptor passed away and then fundraising efforts to pay for the endeavor hit a brick wall. Finally, Layne was commissioned to finish the project, after four private donors ponied up $160,000, and the process resumed again in March.
Frazier, who was an Olympic gold medal winner in 1964, had a stellar boxing career that ended with a record of 32-4-1, with 27 knockouts. He was, however, most noted for his professional matches with Muhammad Ali, another titan of the ring. As a matter of fact, two of Frazier’s losses were during matches with Ali, including the legendary 1975 “Thrilla In Manilla.”
The sculpture will be placed about five miles south of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Frazier’s daughter, Weatta Collins, is reportedly working with tourism officials to have her dad’s memorial will be included on sightseeing maps.
The statue will reportedly be unveiled next spring.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a star prizefighter whose career was cut short by a murder conviction in New Jersey and who became an international cause célèbre while imprisoned for 19 years before the charges against him were dismissed, died on Sunday morning at his home in Toronto. He was 76.
The cause of death was prostate cancer, his friend and onetime co-defendant, John Artis, said. Mr. Carter was being treated in Toronto, where he had founded a non-profit organization, Innocence International, to work to free prisoners it considered wrongly convicted.
Mr. Carter was convicted twice on the same charges of fatally shooting two men and a woman in a Paterson, N.J., tavern in 1966. But both jury verdicts were overturned on different grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.
The legal battles consumed scores of hearings involving recanted testimony, suppressed evidence, allegations of prosecutorial racial bias — Mr. Carter was black and the shooting victims were white — and a failed prosecution appeal to the United States Supreme Court to reinstate the convictions. Denzel Washington was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for starring in “Hurricane”, a film about Carter’s fight for justice.
Usher Raymond is on double movie duty with his credit as executive producer of the upcoming education documentary Undroppable, as well as his role in Hands of Stone as legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. The project, written and directed by Jason Pollock, will explore the dropout epidemic in the U.S. educational system with direct feedback from American students. The film will be supported by a social media/video campaign that will allow them to discuss the issues they face in school.
Raymond will executive produce with Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber‘s manager) who introduced him to the project, as well as Adam McKay, Sharon Chang, Alex Soros andJohn Powers Middleton. “I knew Usher was very passionate about the issue of education, so I felt this was a great project to bring him into,” said Braun. “His expertise will be invaluable as we continue this film and movement.”
Undroppable will be completed this year for a 2014 release.
Ken Norton, who had three memorable fights with Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali’s jaw in winning their first bout, then losing twice, and who went on to become the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, died Wednesday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. He was 70.
His death was confirmed by his son Ken Jr., an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks of the N.F.L. and a pro linebacker for 13 seasons, The Associated Press said. Norton had been in poor health for several years after sustaining a series of strokes, The A.P. reported.
Norton defeated Ali on a 12-round split decision in 1973 to capture the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. Norton was an exceptionally muscular 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, but he was a decided underdog in the first Ali fight.
“Ali thought it would be an easy fight,” Norton’s former manager, Gene Kilroy, was quoted by The A.P. as saying. “But Norton was unorthodox. Instead of jabbing from above like most fighters, he would put his hand down and jab up at Ali.” Kilroy said that after the fight, Norton visited Ali at the hospital where he was getting his broken jaw wired, and Ali told him he never wanted to fight him again.
Canelo Alvarez proved nothing more than easy money for Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. Mayweather turned one of the richest fights ever into just another $41.5 million payday Saturday night, dominating Alvarez from the opening bell and winning a majority decision in a masterful performance that left no doubt who the best fighter of his era is.
Fighting off his shortest layoff in years, Mayweather was sharp, efficient and sometimes brutal in dismantling an unbeaten fighter who was bigger and was supposed to punch harder. He frustrated Alvarez early, pounded him with big right hands in the middle rounds, and made him look just like he said he would — like any other opponent.
Superstar boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is breaking the record for being the highest-paid boxer for one fight. He will reportedly net more than $41 million for facing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Mayweather’s Money Team signed a very lucrative contract with Showtime Networks earlier this year. The network will broadcast six of his fights over 30 months and they are set to pay him a whopping $200 million. Mayweather’s fight against Alvarez is the second fight of the agreement. Mayweather’s $41 million payday breaks the record he set when he fought Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero in May of 2012 and May of this year respectively. Each of those fights added $32 million to Mayweather’s bank accounts.
While $41 million is a hefty sum of money, Floyd Mayweather could possibly earn more through pay-per-view. According to reports by ESPN.com, people do expect the Mayweather-Alvarez bout to match or surpass the record of 2.44 million purchases. 2.44 million people generated about $130 million for the 2007 match between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya. It’s very likely This fight will be more successful than the bout between De La Hoya and Mayweather because Golden Boy boxing promoter Richard Schaefer says the fight has already broken the all-time record for ticket sales for an MGM Grand boxing match.
The Mayweather-Alvarez fight will take place on September 14.