Grade • A-
DVD • “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” not only serves as a much-needed history lesson, it gives us a look at the man who is now a legend.
The narrative of this excellent documentary follows Ali’s rise to the top of the boxing world at a time when boxing mattered to millions of Americans. More important, it follows his transition from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, his membership in the Black Muslims and his battle with the United States government over his claim on conscientious objector status and his refusal to go fight in the Vietnam War. Or even serve as a recruiting poster boy far from the fighting.
Whether you agree with him or not, Ali had the courage of his convictions. And he needed courage when he found himself stripped of his title, stripped of his ability to make a living and vilified by various figures in government and media.
It’s an amazing contrast to see him lighting the torch at the Atlanta Olympics and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.