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"Muhammad Ali" Filmmakers On Their Portrait Of An American Icon

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The four-part documentary, nearly a decade in the making, premiers Sunday 9/19, on PBS (credit PBS)

There has never been anyone like Muhammad Ali. The uniquely charismatic boxer from Louisville, Kentucky, who died in 2016 at the age of 74, was known for many things. One was the clownish bragging he did before all his bouts, like his memorable rant at a September 1974 press conference before the “Rumble in the Jungle,” one of his famous fights with George Foreman. That fight earned him the heavyweight title — a title he held three times in a long and unparalleled career.  

Ali was revered by millions, reviled, at times, by many.  He was more than an extraordinary athlete.  He was also a generous philanthropist, a principled, committed and unshakable civil rights activist, and above all, a family man.  And in a new, four-part documentary that will air on successive evenings on PBS beginning on Sunday (September 19), the story of his extraordinary life is told by the extraordinary filmmaking team of Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon.  

Tom spoke yesterday with Sarah Burns and David McMahon.  They joined him on Zoom from their home in New York.

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Documentary filmmakers Sarah Burns and David McMahon co-directed "Muhammad Ali" with Sarah's father, Ken Burns.

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