Blood Brothers, a new Muhammad Ali biopic on Netflix, follows in the footsteps of a slew of other documentaries that have done it before. Ali has already been performed by these actors.
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My films about Muhammad Ali’s life include the Netflix documentary Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, which details the civil rights movement and boxer’s friendship, as well as several others. The boxing legend has been the subject of countless documentaries and biopics throughout the years. Ali has been portrayed by actors in certain films and only real-life video in others.
Ali, who was born Cassius Clay, rose to prominence in the 1960s as a world-class boxer who won the heavyweight title in 1964. In addition to his physical prowess, Ali grew into a national hero for social justice issues. When Ali was at the pinnacle of his fame, it was in the midst of the American civil rights movement, when he met and conversed with figures like Malcolm X. In 1967, Ali refused to serve in the military because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. His legacy will continue to be immortalized in films, such as Blood Brothers, after he passed away in 2016.
Acclaimed performers take on some of the most famous historical people in sports documentaries and biopics. More than a dozen actors have portrayed Muhammad Ali over the past half-century, making him a popular subject for film adaptations. All the actors who have played Ali in movies are listed here.
1. Muhammad Ali
1977’s The Greatest starred Ali as himself and chronicled his life from the 1960 Summer Olympics through his comeback victory over Joe Louis in the heavyweight division in 1974. An autobiography titled The Greatest: My Own Story is used as the basis for Tom Gries’ movie of Ali, The Greatest: My Own Story. Ernest Borgnine, John Marley and Lloyd Haynes shared the screen with Ali in the film. Outstanding Motion Picture went to the picture in 1978. Ali was the perfect option to lead in his own film because of his wide-spread inspiration as a public figure.
2. Terrence Howard
With Terrence Howard portraying Muhammad Ali, King of the World depicted the boxer’s early career and the buildup to his most memorable fight against Sonny Liston. As Rhodey in Marvel’s Iron Man and Lucious Lyon in the TV series Empire, Howard is best known. Steve Harris played Liston, and Gary Dourdan played Malcolm X in King of the World.
3. David Ramsey
Ali: An American Hero, starring David Ramsey, was released on FOX in 2000. In addition to his 1974 title bout with George Foreman, the film focuses on the boxer’s conversion to Islam. His other prominent parts include John Diggle on the CW program Arrow and Sidney Parker in the 2000 film Pay it Forward, both of which were played by Ramsey.
4. Will Smith
A star of the silver screen Along with Jamie Foxx, John Voight, and Jeffrey Wright, Will Smith donned a set of boxing gloves for the 2001 biopic Ali. The Michael Mann-directed film, which focuses on the height of Ali’s boxing success and controversy between 1964 and 1974, has been favorably received by reviewers and has been nominated for multiple awards, including two Oscars and three Golden Globes. A BET Award for Best Actor went to Smith’s performance as Ali, which was one of his two all-time Oscar nods for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
5. Eli Goree
The most recent film portrayal of Muhammad Ali was in the Amazon Prime original movie One Night in Miami, starring Eli Goree as the renowned boxer. Original stage play, “The Birth of a Nation,” was turned into an adaptation of the film that depicts a fictional meeting between Ali, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). The film, which was directed by Regina King, was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2021. Goree previously portrayed American track star Dave Albritton in 2016’s Race, a biopic about Jesse Owens’ life. One Night in Miami is not the actor’s first portrayal of a real-life sportsman. Goree is well recognized for his role as Wells Jaha on The 100, which aired on the CW network.