The reviews on the new movie 'Ali' are in and generally favorable.Â
Apparently Will Smith really pegs Ali, which is almost beyond hope, and Jon
Voigt, a somewhat repellant man in his later years, seems to do a good Howard
Cosell as well.
We know a lot of our readers were at Duke during the '60s, and so the Beatles
and Ali and everything else are still fresh and vital to them.Â But for us,
Ali was already a cautionary figure. WatchingÂ him fight Leon Spinks and,
most devastatingly, Larry Holmes, those were terrible things to see.Â It's
hard to believe that a man with such immense vitality (even those who despised
him could hardly deny this) could be reduced to the condition he is in today,
and not yet 60.Â His wife says not to pity him, but it's impossible not to.
We have read enough about Ali and follow boxing somewhat though not
passionately to understand his level of talent: it's Jordanesque.Â You see
a man who is 6-4 and around 220 who could move the way he could - it's
remarkable. Then the hands.Â We met a guy once who experienced Ali's hand speed
up close and personal.Â An Egyptian, our friend was also a black belt, as
was Ali, and met him through karate circles.Â He said he stood straight,
terrified to flinch, as Ali threw a series of pinpoint punches up his chest to
his nose, less than 1/8 of an inch from his body.Â To have someone have
that kind of speed and control and not hit you is almost as frightening as
actually being hit.
Ali's style was really interesting because it was so unorthodox.Â He
kept his hands down low and brought them up to pop someone.Â When you see
the old films, before his title was stripped,Â you see the raw athleticism:
a man that size who moved that way! It truly was floating like a butterfly and
stinging like a bee.Â Never before, never sincel, probably never again.
Despite that, his greatest fights were past his prime, when he had to summon
all his resources to win. The Frazier fights were epic, of course, and the fight
with Foreman was just brilliant. Ali spent months psyching his opponents out,
and Foreman was no exception.Â He turned the entire nation of Zaire against
Foreman, and after the famous rope-a-dope strategy, when he sensed Foreman
weakening, he said "that all you got George?" Foreman, in a
documentary, said, "I remember thinking, 'yeah, that's about it.'"
It's another measure of time gone by that Foreman has become a Teddy Bear,
when he was, at that time, a bigger, more frightening Mike Tyson.Â Foreman,
Frazier, and Ali are probably three of the top five or six heavyweights of all
time, and that they came along at the same time was great for boxing fans but
terrible for the other two, as Ali ultimately came to dominate them.
In different ways, both Foreman and Frazier are still competing with Ali, the
master of the psychout.Â Frazier continues to resent Ali;
Foreman has spoken of how he is trying to get Ali to accept Jesus Christ.
So we plan to see this movie, and we hope you do too, particularly if your
image of Ali is that of a shaky old man.Â Because when you see guys like
Deion Sanders or Hector Camacho using flash and brash, they are a pale
reflection of Ali's greatness.Â When you see athletes taking political
stands, like the former Chris Jackson, they are 30 years late.Â Ali was in
many ways an original who can never be replicated, and while it has taken
decades for everyone to come to a consensus on this, he is in some very profound
ways a classic American original.