Boxing alone doesn’t make Muhammad Ali the GOAT

Lifestyle

Boxing alone doesn’t make Muhammad Ali the GOAT

A new documentary about the legend is a satisfyingly hopeful, victorious and sad hero’s journey

Tymon Smith

In the 21st century sports arena the term GOAT – Greatest of all Time - has been hotly contested. Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and LeBron James have all had their names bandied about as contenders for the title.

Of course, the original and all-time GOAT was and always will be Muhammad Ali – the “Louisville Lip” born Cassius Clay jnr in Kentucky in 1942. Olympic champion at 18, heavyweight champion of the world at 22 after defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, and the only boxer in the history of that division to regain the title three times.

But Ali earned his GOAT title through more than his boxing – he was an unapologetically loud and opinionated black man in an age when men of his colour were supposed to shut up and be thankful for whatever scraps they were offered from the white man’s table. He was also an early and lifelong campaigner for civil rights and justice, not afraid to sacrifice his title when his principles dictated that he would not go fight in Vietnam in 1967, determined that the press and his opponents recognise his religious belief-inspired name change to Muhammad Ali after his first championship victory, stubbornly and ultimately tragically committed to proving himself the GOAT long after his body was able to deliver on the version of himself his ego would not let go of...

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