FILE - Legendary boxer Mohammed Ali
CAIRO - 26 June 2019: June 26 marks the retirement anniversary of boxing legend Mohammed Ali. Ali’s charisma and personality made him a source of attraction for filmmakers who produced dozens of films that immortalized his life.
In 1977, the first film about the legendary boxer, entitled "The greatest", was produced. The film starred Ali, preferring to embody his own life and the difficulties he faced, notably racism against him as a Black American Muslim.
In 2000, two films were produced portraying the life of Ali. The first illustrated the world boxing champion's career inside and outside the ring. The second film was entitled "Mohammed Ali ... American hero". The legendary boxer was played by American actor David Ramsey.
All of the above mentioned films did not satisfy Ali, until Will Smith played his role in 2001. Smith followed Ali’s advice and guidance, both in terms of boxing and the practices of the Islamic faith. The greatest ever boxer expressed his satisfaction with the film, which was released in 2001.
The film portrayed Ali’s battles outside the ring, primarily his refusal to enlist in the Vietnam War; which led to him being stripped off the championship title in 1967, in addition to shedding light on the story of his rise to stardom in the boxing world. The film was entitled "Ali".
In 2014, Claire Loewe released her documentary film "I am Ali", which deals with the boxer’s life story, shedding light on his relationship with his family and particularly his daughters.
Several feature films addressed aspects of Ali's life, such as "Confronting Ali", which depicts his boxing career through stories told by numerous other boxers who faced him in the ring.
Mohamed Ali Clay was born in the city of Louisville, Kentucky in 1942 as Cassius Marcus Clay.
The boxer later changed his name to Mohammed Ali Clay. He discovered his fighting talent by chance at the age of 12 when his bike was stolen. At that incident, Ali informed a police officer that he wanted to beat up the thief. The policeman, who was a boxing coach at a local club, replied "You have to learn how to fight before you challenge the world."
Ali became a professional boxer in 1963 and defeated British champion Henry Cooper in 1966. He defeated boxer Sonny Liston in 1964 to become the world heavyweight boxing champion.
He converted to Islam in 1967 after a period of isolation from all those around him for one year, as he studied the Islamic faith in depth.
Ali then started another kind of fighting, standing up to the US war on Vietnam. When he was asked to join the US military in 1967, he refused to be arrested for treason and was stripped of his title as champion.
After his retirement from boxing, Ali focused on charitable works. In 2005, the boxer received the Presidential Gold Medal for Freedom from President George W. Bush. A centre bearing his name was launched in his city of Louisville.
“I am a normal man, who truly worked hard to better himself. Many of my fans wanted to create a museum to honor my achievements, but I wanted something more than a building that contained my medals and trophies: I want a place that can inspire people to be as good as they can be and encourage them to respect each other," said the legend.
Ali died on June 3, 2016 at the age of 74, after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease.