On Monday night, at 9:00 p.m., Spike TV will air the documentary, "Facing Ali." Directed by Peter McCormack, the film made the list of 15 features that were eligible for the Academy Awards. It was not one of the final five nominees, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your time.
If you love Ali, or if you hate him. Watch it. If you love boxing, or hate it, watch it. It's a
film about the human spirit, about determination and, in the end, about love.
The film features 10 men who fought Muhammad Ali: George Chuvalo, Sir Henry Cooper, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks, and Ernie Terrell.
They speak about their fights with Ali. They speak about Ali the man and his legacy.
Here are some samples:
Chuvalo: "Who's more revered than Muhammad Ali? He's more revered than any other fighter in the history of boxing. He's more revered, perhaps, than any other person in history."
Foreman: "Was I jealous of him? Yes. He was tall and good looking. Everyone was jealous of him."
But it wasn't just a lovefest. The film tackles all of Ali's controversial issues -- refusing induction into the U.S. Army, his conversion to Island, the taunting of Joe Frazier. When it came to Frazier, Norton said, "We saw it as an insult to our fellow brother."
I've seen Joe Frazier talk about Ali many times -- on film and in person. This was the first time I saw him get emotional when he spoke about Ali. That was moving.
What was also wonderful about this film was that it gave you the story of each fighter. You learned about all 10 opponents. The segment on Chuvalo, during which he speaks about the loss of his children and wife, was heartbreaking.
But Chuvalo could come right back and make you laugh. Particularly when he said of his fight with Ali, "Muhammad Ali went to the hospital after the fight with bleeding kidneys. Me. I went dancing with my wife." He then demonstrates his dancing moves.
At the close of the movie, each man talks about Ali today. It's interesting to hear what Frazier says at the end. It was also interesting that most of them said fighting Ali changed their lives forever. But I think Lyle said it best for all of them, "He may not be able to talk now, but we can talk for him."
Do yourself a favor. Watch it Monday night.