DVD REVIEW: Facing Ali
It might be debatable who the greatest boxer of all time might be, but there is no arguing over the influence of Muhammad Ali. More than his boxing technique, fancy footwork, Ali also worked the press like nobody else before him, created historic TV with Howard Cosell, controversies through his religious convictions, and at the time of his greatest popularity, truly was the “the greatest” the world over.
Facing Ali tells the story of Ali as a fighter-which is the story of Ali the man really-related by 10 of Ali’s opponents. Starting with footage of Ali training in the late 50’s, his rise through the Olympics (albeit these are short clips), to his first big fight against England’s Sir Henry Cooper. As with almost every fighter here, we get pristine fight clips, a voice over from the opponent, then that man relating a no-holes accounting of his background. There’s enough on Ali to be sure, but each fighter’s impressions of his time in and out of the ring bring their lives alive in a way countless hours of footage never could.
We run through the Sonny Listen match-ups, the Joe Frazier fights (the “Thrilla In Manila” being the biggest one), Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks; lesser-knowns like Ernie Terrell, Earnie Shavers and Ron Lyle and the most commentary (during his match, after and before) from a very engaging George Chuvalo.
Facing Ali is a great historic sports document, a loving tribute and an unmatched documentary about the men who make their living in the ring.