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“Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World” Interviewee Quotes

Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World is a fresh and revealing two-part account of this immense icon told in part by those closest to him. The biopic features extensive, never-seen-before archive footage as well as personal material belonging to Ali.

If that isn’t enough to make you watch public television, here’s a sampling on interviewee quotes from the film. From Maya Angelou to a neighbor from Ali’s hometown of Louisville, each story allows for a greater perspective on the influence of a celebrated life.

Hannah Ali
Muhammad Ali’s daughter

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“The world knows my father as Muhammad Ali, but I know him as Daddy. And he’s always been a great Dad, surprisingly, ’cause he was always very busy, traveling, but he made it very evident that he loved us and he gave us a lot of attention. Nothing was too important. There was never a time the door was closed even in an important business conference call. He focused on his kids and made time for his family life as well as the business world.”

Billy Crystal

“Getting up from the punch against Joe Frazier…I’m with tears in my eyes saying “get up, get up, you won the fight.” I still felt that he won the fight even when he was being counted while he was sitting on the floor. He got up right away…the courage of that. He got nailed but he was up in four, he was nailed, but he got up right away. I remember getting all emotional about that fight. I didn’t sleep for like two days after that fight because it was so extraordinary what they gave… what they took out of each other.”

Dick Schaap
Late Sports Journalist and Author

(Discussing Cassius Clay’s conversion to Muslim)
“At the time, Cassius Clay was quite malleable. I say–only half kidding–if I’d tried really hard to convert him to Judaism I could have done it.”

Sir Henry Cooper
Former British and European Heavyweight Champion

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“When they make films about his life, anyone under 40 can’t remember it. But it’s great, ’cause now you’ve got new people looking at it and admiring the guy, because he was a great boxer. He was the fastest-moving heavyweight of all time.”

Bonnie Greer
Playwright & Author

“I think what Ali represented was a kind of feline, even feminine, beauty in the ring–the ability to use intuition to fight. He fought with his mind; his body came after his mind.”

Lennox Lewis
Two-Time Heavyweight Champion

“The first Ali fight I saw was the Thrilla in Manila, against Joe Frazier. Me and my mother watched it on TV. There was a lot of hype surrounding this fight so I was particularly excited. I just loved his showmanship, and I said to my mum that I was going to emulate him one day. And I’m trying to do that today.”

Bert Sugar
Boxing Historian

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“When he’s matched up against George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle”–you fear for his very life. And yet, he goes over to Zaire and he captivates the crowd and captures them over with his charisma. And they’re shouting in Zairous (sic) language…’Ali kill him…Ali Bombaya.’ For Foreman they have nothing. For Ali they have everything. Muhammad Ali at that point was on the cusp of becoming the most popular man in the world.”

Mike Marqusee
Author of “Redemption Song”

“1967 when Ali was tried and convicted for draft evasion, exiled from the ring…no sane person would have bet that he would ever fight again, no sane person would have bet that he would ever reclaim the world heavyweight championship and definitely no person, sane or insane, would have bet that he would finish the 20th century as the most beloved, revered sports figure in America and in the world.”

Maya Angelou
Writer, Poet and Civil Rights Activist

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…I mean as a poet I like that. If he hadn’t put his name on that I might have chosen to use that!”

Rod Steiger

“I watched it and I said, “Dear God let him be able to light it.” And Ali–all his life he’s lit the torch. You’ve got to be able to take your hat off and say ‘Thank you Muhammad you’re indeed a man’.”

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