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Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Trials Of Muhammad Ali


After beating Sonny Liston in 1964 to become the heavyweight boxing champion, Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and went on to become the best-known human being on Earth. But many people -- including his opponents -- refused to call him by his new name, which infuriated him so much that when he beat them in the ring, he taunted them by shouting "What's my name?" as he landed blow after blow.

That's one of the revelations in the documentary, "The Trials Of Muhammad Ali," directed and produced by Bill Siegel, which will air Monday on the PBS Independent Lens series. On my America Weekend show, I discussed some of the non-boxing aspects of Ali's life, including his refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. We also talked about a part of Ali's history that I (like many others) didn't know about -- the white businessmen in Louisville who were Ali's earliest supporters and why they parted ways with him when Ali embraced the Nation Of Islam.

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