Rare and Riveting Footage from “The Trials of Muhammad Ali”

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Update: The Trials of Muhammad Ali airs on Monday, April 14, on public television’s excellent Independent Lens series on many PBS stations. Check local listings »

A new film, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, captures the former heavyweight boxer at an explosive crossroads of his life. In rare and riveting archival footage, shown here, Ali — who became a political lightening rod when he refused to serve in the Vietnam war — angrily speaks out to college students about the conflict.

“You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs,” the young Ali tells the crowd. “And you want me to go somewhere and fight!”

The Nation’s sports correspondent, Dave Zirin, spoke to Bill Moyers for an upcoming episode of Moyers & Company and said the film showed Ali’s prominent role at a nexus in history. “You have these two titanic social movements in the 1960s, the struggle against the war in Vietnam and the African-American freedom struggle. And here you have the most famous athlete on earth with one foot in both,” Zirin observed.

Watch the film trailer at the official website for the film or watch director Bill Siegel and executive producer Gordon Quinn discuss the film on Democracy Now!

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