Knit to This: Muhammad Ali Documentary

By Kay Gardiner
September 25, 2021

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  • As a kid, I was always impressed by his over-the-top confidence. He was/is the greatest.

  • This is a terrific documentary. My English mother LOVED boxing and Ali and my sportswriter father saw the 1st Ali/Frazier fight. My Dad later met and spent a day with him at a nearby youth camp. Ali was a legend in our house. He was not perfect of course, and I appreciate how the doc does not shy away from that. Thank you for recommending it.

  • Sadly not available in the UK

  • I am SO looking forward to this, thanks for the reminder! He was much loved and admired in our house also while I was growing up. And Joy Reid had Ken Burns on this week which really got me excited for it.

  • This is indeed, an excellent “knit to this” recommendation. If you are squeemish about watching the boxing footage, as I am, you can watch your knitting instead, which I did! This was a very thoughtful portrayal of the metamorphasis of an international icon, and the social, political history of the past 50 years.

  • In 1964 my dad, a Foreign Service officer, was posted to Nigeria. On our flight was a young man named Cassius Clay, on his way to Nigeria to fight Dick Tiger. My brother got his autograph, and seemed to know who this guy was – most likely my father was the one in the know – but proceeded to lose this treasure somewhere down the line of all our moves. Even though I was utterly clueless about this young man, who was gracious enough to give a 10 year old boy his autograph, I’ve never forgotten that experience. Must have been a pretty magnetic personality!

  • This is absolutely compelling tv. So much more to the man.

  • I grew up with a family who loved many sports but boxing was not one of them. Still, one could not NOT know about Muhammad Ali, he was so often in the news and in the public discussion as I was growing up. Everyone heard, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” I recently saw One Night in Miami and, although I know some of his life, wanted to learn more about him after seeing that film.

    PBS Passport is a treasure box, and one I do not open often enough. Thank you for the recommendation and the reminder of that wonderful source of quality programming.

  • I have been just riveted by this documentary. It’s almost all new to me. I mean, everyone has heard of Muhammad Ali, and the famous “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” quote, but I had really no idea how intelligent, articulate, and just straight up newsworthy the man was on a daily basis.

    He felt to me very much ahead of his time somehow, refusing to kowtow to the powerful and demanding his due. I’ve recorded it all to watch again. I think my teen kids will find it riveting too.

  • I always appreciate your recommendations – and when I’ve already discovered one of your treasures, that’s a treat too. We just finished “Round Two” last night. So good. A fascinating man, and such an interesting lens into the history of these years.

    I would add, my husband wasn’t sure if he was up for a “Ken Burns”. (He and I would disagree on this.) But these episodes have the pacing and flow that fit their subject and the eras they cover. I heard a great interview with Burns on Stay Tuned with Preet last week – I recommend it. He’s now making these films with his daughter and son-in-law.

  • Hmmm…doing some fact checking on myself, and realizing that Cassius Clay and Dick Tiger wouldn’t have been fighting each other – both were sensations in different weight classes in 1964, so must have been a publicity tour that put Cassius Clay on our plane to Nigeria in that year

  • You Should watch the special it was great. When I was a kid in Jr. High School and high school he would run from the 5th street gym to our school and run with our 7:00 a.m. girls gym class, always nice to us but yelling COME ON LADIES – PICK IT UP. He was in front running backwards. He was a special man.

    • Love this, what a great memory!

    • After he won his Olympic Gold Medal, Cassius Clay visited all the high schools in Kentucky. I was a sophomore at Krankfort High when he visited and got to help show him around along with my boyfriend who was a senior and president of the student council. I got his autograph on our school paper but like the other poster lossy it somewhere along the way. He has always been a hero to me, despite my intense dislike of boxing. Yes, the fight scenes in ‘Ali’ are a good time to focus on knitting.

      • Should have edited: Frankfort HS and ‘lost’ not lossy.

      • What an amazing experience to have actually spent time with him. Incredible!

    • That is amazing!!!!

  • I’m a huge fan of Ali — he was such an icon and inspirational activist.

    Ken Burns is one our most famous alumns of our alma mater — Hampshire College. He graduated about 10 years before I did, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet him and look forward to doing so again at our 50th anniversary celebration next month. He is always very gracious and has done an incredible job of supporting our small — but mighty — college.

    If you’re a Ken Burns fan and want to see something hilarious check this out.

    • That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing! My personal favorite project of his is called The Address; it’s not a historical documentary, although it does involve the Gettysburg Address.

  • I watched the entire documentary and found it riveting. I was not aware of so much of his life. I was disappointed to learn of his treatment of women and how little we ever heard about it. He was married to two women at once for a time. I think that in today’s climate the view of him might be quite different. He was a womanizer and really only saw them as sex partners. I actually thought less of him after watching this documentary and I’m surprised others didn’t feel the same.