Segments in this Video

Fight of the Century (03:40)


Muhammad Ali expresses nervousness before his historic fight against Joe Frazier in 1971. He prays in the ring. See images of him training. (Credits)

Louisville Boxing Origins (03:46)

Cassius Clay's mother recalls his strength as a baby. Joe Martin encourages him to fight to confront a bicycle thief; Rocky Marciano inspires him to pursue a professional career. See footage of his 1960 fights, including the Olympic trials.

1960 Olympics (04:24)

Clay overcomes his fear of flying to compete in Rome. See footage of his fight against Ziggy Pietrzykowski for the light heavyweight championship. He reflects on experiencing racial discrimination in Louisville, even as a gold medalist.

Going Pro (02:58)

In an interview, Bill Faversham describes contracting Clay. Clay recalls approaching Angelo Dundee, who became his trainer in Miami. Dundee discusses his work ethic and passion for boxing.

Developing a Persona (03:47)

See footage of Clay's first professional fight against Tunney Hunsaker in October 1960. Clay uses humor to address racial discrimination in a television interview. He models his self-promotion style after Gorgeous George.

"The Gang's All Here" (03:34)

Clay recalls being knocked down by Henry Cooper in a 1963 fight. He and Sam Cooke sing "The Gang's All Here" on a British radio station. He records "I Am the Greatest" with Columbia Records.

Preparing to Fight Sonny Liston (03:43)

Clay and Liston exchange banter after signing a contract. Clay recites humorous poetry on a television show and predicts his victory.

Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston (06:31)

See footage of their 1964 fight. Despite eye issues, Clay wins in the seventh round.

Converting to Islam (03:03)

In an interview, Malcolm X believes Clay's faith and healthy lifestyle contributed to his victory over Liston. With Elijah Muhammad's support, Clay changes his name to Muhammad Ali.

Turning to Spirituality (02:50)

Ali is criticized for his involvement in the Nation of Islam, seen as a potential national security threat by the FBI. In a Chicago interview, he expresses weariness of boxing and support for African-American freedom. He takes guidance from God.

Pan African Movement (03:35)

Ali tours African countries promoting the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X is assassinated in 1965.

Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston II (02:59)

See footage of the 1966 fight, during which Ali knocks out Liston in the first round. Johnson increases the Vietnam War draft.

Protesting the Vietnam War (02:53)

See footage of Ali fighting Floyd Patterson. African-American soldiers voice their support for Ali's refusal to join the draft while Jackie Robinson criticizes him.

Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell (04:33)

Ali calls Terrell an "uncle Tom" for referring to him as Cassius Clay; they nearly start fighting. Ali later says the altercation was not a publicity stunt. See footage of their 1967 fight.

Civil Rights Involvement (05:57)

Ali is sentenced to five years in jail for refusing the draft on religious grounds; his championship title is revoked. He and Dr. King find common ground. After King's assassination, Ali speaks at university campuses across the U.S.

World Heavyweight Championship (02:27)

Ali sues New York State to regain his ring license. Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, and Joe Frazier fight for Ali's title; Frazier wants to face Ali. In 1970, Ali's license is reinstated.

Returning to the Ring (03:43)

Ali has six weeks to prepare for a fight after a three year absence. See him fight Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena in 1970.

Preparing to Retake the Heavyweight Championship (05:11)

Ali trains for his fight with Frazier and shares his ring strategies. Frazier prepares for the fight as he would any other. Both are confident of victory.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier I (11:00)

Celebrities attend the 1971 fight between heavyweight champions. Hear Ali's commentary during the fight. Frazier is declared the winner after 15 rounds; Ali vows to beat him in their next fight.

Credits: Muhammad Ali: Part I (02:12)

Credits: Muhammad Ali: Part I

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Muhammad Ali: Part I

Part of the Series : What's My Name: Muhammad Ali
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As Muhammad Ali approaches his epic first fight with Joe Frazier in 1971, we look back on his childhood as Cassius Clay in Louisville, KY (a “strong baby,” he inadvertently knocked out one of his mother’s teeth); his introduction to boxing at 12, where he fought on local TV as one of “Tomorrow’s Champions”; his amateur career, which culminated in a Golden Gloves triumph and a 1960 Olympic Gold Medal in the light-heavyweight division; and his ascension to heavyweight champion, when he “shocked the world” in 1964 as an arrogant 22-year- old by beating Sonny Liston. After converting to Islam and forging close ties with Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, Cassius changed his name to Muhammad Ali, beat Liston again, and defended his championship seven more times before being stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing to be drafted into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Exonerated after three long years, Ali returned to the ring in 1970, where he pummeled Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena before agreeing to a “Fight of the Century” in New York’s Madison Square Garden against the unbeaten Joe Frazier, who had won the crown in Ali’s absence. Arguably the most-hyped sporting event in history, Ali-Frazier I does not disappoint – but when the smoke clears, it’s Frazier who is still the champ, having knocked down Ali in the 15th and won a unanimous decision. Stung but still cocky, Ali vows he’ll win a rematch: “I know him now. Next time will be an easy fight.”

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: BVL189936

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

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