Muhammad Ali (04:26)
Dick Cavett was a major talk show host and Ali often appeared on his show. Ali's personality and articulation made him a popular guest and showman.
Boxing Champ (03:56)
Ali began boxing at age 12. He would eventually win a gold medal in Italy and use his fame to fight racism. He won the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, and defended it nine times. Segregationists expressed disdain for Ali's outspokenness.
Religious Conversion (08:54)
Born Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X became his role model and The Black Separatists utilized his celebrity to access mainstream media.
Ali's Message (07:33)
Cavett gave Ali a platform to express opinions; he often quoted leaders of the Nation of Islam and encouraged segregation. Malcolm X split from the sect, but Ali did not follow. Ali recites Louis Farrakhan's "A White Man's Heaven is a Black Man's Hell."
Conscientious Objector (09:50)
Shortly before Malcom X’s assassination, he and Ali disassociated. Ali was encouraged to represent the Nation of Islam, speaking against the Vietnam War. When drafted, Ali claimed religious exemption and was found guilty of violating draft laws.
Heavyweight Champion (06:54)
Joe Frazier became champion while Ali was exiled; he supported Ali's return. Ali defeated Jerry Quarry, becoming more confident. Jim Brown and Gov. Lester Maddox debate Ali's attitude and opinions.
Politicized Hype (08:39)
Before their fight, Frazier and Ali’s friendly rivalry became disrespectful and personal. Ali symbolized the sentiment of the black community and Joe was perceived as the “Great White Hope.”
High Profile Fights (07:48)
Ali lost to Frazier, taking the defeat well; he and Cavett discussed the bout. Ali went on to defeat Frazier twice in rematches.
Defeats and Rematches (08:10)
The Nation of Islam shunned Ali after his loss to Frazier. Ali lost to Ken Norton, but won the rematch allowing for a second bout with Frazier. Cavett visited his training camp and Ali expressed appreciation.
Three Time Champ (11:35)
Ali was encouraged to retire. He won the second bout with Frazier, taking back his title. After a loss to Leon Spinks, he was pressured to quit, but he went on to defeat George Foreman. Ali officially withdrew on July 27th, 1979.
Disease and Friendship (07:03)
Needing money, Ali came out of retirement, fighting Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick. He stopped speaking publicly when affected by Parkinson’s Disease. Cavett reminisces about their camaraderie.
Representing Human Spirit (02:38)
In 1996, Ali lit the torch at Centennial Olympic Stadium. The act was seen as a symbolic victory over disease, exile, and racial discrimination.
Credits: Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (05:27)
Credits: Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes
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