Much is known about Muhammad Ali’s triumphs as a boxer — “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” The Heavyweight Champion of the World, “The Greatest” — but a new documentary focuses on the trials he endured as well.
“The Trials Of Muhammad Ali,” the latest documentary from Chicago-based Kartemquin Films (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters”) explores the boxer’s life as he was transitioning from Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. to Muhammad Ali — much of which happens during Ali’s time living in Chicago.
(See more photos of Muhammad Ali’s life in Chicago below.)
Siegel said in a recent interview “Trials” explores a part of the Ali’s life that’s often glossed-over in sports documentaries, the exile which he calls “the most important period of his life.”
Ali met both his first wife (to whom he was married just 18 months) and his second wife, Khalilah Ali (nee Belinda Boyd) in Chicago.
Ali’s second wife, a Chicago native born into the Nation of Islam (she changed her named after their marriage in 1967) was a deeply influential figure in Ali’s life despite being almost a decade younger when she married him at age 17.
As “Trials” follows Ali’s life from a Kentucky boxing champ to a follower of Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad, to his battle with the U.S. government over his conscientious objector status that ultimately led to the Supreme Court.
In addition to revealing an intimate look at Ali’s life living in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” mines long-forgotten slices of the legend’s past (including his stint as a college speaker and the star of the Broadway play, “Buck White”).