The Trials of Mohammad Ali

Despite its title, the film The Trials of Muhammad Ali has nothing to do with the physical judgment and decisions his fists handed down inside the boxing ring. Rather, it centers on the defining controversy of his life, which embroiled race, politics, war, religion and civil rights. The documentary from director Bill Siegel focuses on the years 1967-1970, when the then-named Cassius Clay converted to Islam, changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused his draft call to fight in Vietnam. “I will not go 10,000 miles to continue the domination of white slave masters over the darker people of the earth,” Ali said, also noting, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong…no Viet Cong ever called me nigger.” As a result, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight belt, banned from boxing and lived basically in exile in the U.S. while his case wound its way through court. And while the current image of Ali is of the jovial, sympathetic former slugger slowed by Parkinson’s, the film shows the charismatic champ when he was at his most physical and — to many — most dangerous.

8 p.m. Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney. For information, visit houstonpbs.org. Free.
Wed., Feb. 26, 6 p.m., 2014

 
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