Over the weekend, I watched the brilliant ESPN documentary “Muhammad & Larry,” part of their award winning 30 for 30 series that recently wrapped at the end of the year.
It was the truest story about former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali attempting to make a comeback against the then-current champion and his friend, Larry Holmes.
The doc keeps it real, letting the audience know the stakes: that Larry Holmes was in a no-win situation, even as the current champ, because he was going up against the People’s Champ, the verbose and personable Ali. Holmes had the money, but not the personality. He was clearly on his way to the top, with a house under construction and his eyes on keeping the crown.
And then there was Ali, older and less agile. Some would say, and they did, that he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s. Yet, he muddled on, throwing out one-liners and halfway convincing those around him that he was fit for the fight. He wasn’t. And he had to know it. But it’s that thrill of the thing, the chase, the training, the limelight… it all consumed Ali for a bit too long.
It was somewhat painful to watch him during that stage in his career. I found myself feeling for both fighters. Wanting both just to leave with their reputations in check. After the jump is a clip of the documentary, and on Ali’s birthday, it’s only appropriate that we throw it to the clip with a classic quote from the former champ:
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”
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