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.”
ESPN will provide live coverage of Muhammad Ali’s memorial service Friday in his hometown of Louisville, KY. As a result, the network is shifting its coverage of the opening match of the European soccer championships between host France and Romania to ESPN2. Coverage for both events begin at 2 PM ET.
Ali died Friday in Arizona after suffering for years with Parkinson’s disease. The three-time heavyweight champ and worldwide sports icon was 74.
Former President Bill Clinton,Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel are among those scheduled to give eulogies at the service, to be held as the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. That comes after a funeral procession travels along Muhammad Ali Boulevard and past his boyhood home on its way to Cave Hill Cemetery. The pallbearers include Will Smith, who played the champ in 2001’s Ali.
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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.
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.
Having already played the corner man to one of the greatest boxers of all-time in “Ali” starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx looks ready to get back in the ring and take on the lead role to portray one of the most recognizable boxers and sports figures of this generation.
Foxx is attached to play Mike Tyson in an untitled biopic that Terence Winter (“Wolf of Wall Street”, “Sopranos”, “Boardwalk Empire”) is set to script. Rick Yorn, who is Foxx’s manager, will produce the movie.
As one of the most polarizing figures in sports, producers are eager to tackle Tyson’s life story. Known for the power and ferocity he displayed in the ring, Tyson became not just the top boxer at the end of the ’80s but one of the most popular sports figures, with a rough around-the-edges personality he displayed both in and out of the ring.
After losing his heavyweight title in 1990 following the upset loss to Buster Douglas, Tyson’s life began to spin out of control, including a six-year stint in prison after being found guilty of rape. Tyson returned to boxing but never quite returned to form, and became more known for his losses to Evander Holyfied (a match which made headlines when Tyson bit off part of Holyfield’s ear) and Lennox Lewis.
After leaving boxing in 2005, Tyson still had hurdles to overcome, such as his 2003 bankruptcy and the death of his young daughter. In recent years, he has kept out of trouble.
He premiered a one-man show in Vegas in 2012 that he later took to Broadway with the help of Spike Lee and released a memoir “Undisputed Truth” that made the New York Times bestseller list.
Though it’s unknown exactly which parts of Tyson’s life Winter will focus on, he has plenty of material to cover over the past 30 years. HBO tackled the story before with the 1995 pic “Tyson” starring Michael Jai White, but no one has tried to adapt his story as a feature film, though boxing is a popular sport for films.
Foxx played Dwight “Bundini” Brown in “Ali” and also cocky quarterback Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday.” Winter, on the other hand, is no stranger to taking on controversial figures after receiving an Oscar nom for adaptation on Wall Street bad boy Jordan Belfort’s life in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Foxx can be seen next in Sony’s reboot of “Annie.” He is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment. Winter is repped by CAA and is currently working on the final season of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
The greatest boxer of all time — Muhammad Ali — turns 71 today. Besides being a sports legend, Ali is considered a civil rights and cultural icon. His boxing career spanned three decades and certainly had its share of ups and downs. Still, no fighter’s heights were as compelling as Ali’s. Check out The Grio’s list of the top 10 greatest bouts of his career in the slideshow by clicking below:
Former world heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson (pictured) has traveled quite a road from fighter, spousal abuser and convicted rapist, to ear biter, pigeon lover, actor and now, children’s philanthropist. And to prove it, Tyson has launched his very own charity, aptly named, ‘Mike Tyson Cares Foundation.’
The organization’s mission is to ‘“give kids a fighting chance” by providing innovative centers that provide for the comprehensive needs of kids from broken homes. It will also provide such essentials as healthcare and school assistance, shelter, mentoring, job mentoring and any other needs that the foundation deems necessary for the child in question seeking assistance.