'What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali' Is The Legendary Boxer's Eulogy to Himself [Tribeca Review]
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde
During a time when Black people as a whole were being labeled with various stereotypes, or forced into certain boxes, Muhammad Ali was redefining what it meant to be a Black celebrity and athlete. Bold and fearless, he used his platform to speak out against racial injustices and inequality; Ali refused to allow the world to define him.
In his exquisitely done two-part documentary, What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali, acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua chronicles Ali’s life and legacy. Beginning with his early days in the 1950s as an amateur boxer in Louisville, Kentucky to the later years when he became a global citizen and political ambassador while battling Parkinson’s disease, Fuqua paints an extensive portrait of an extraordinary human being.
Composed entirely of archival footage, and void of talking head interviews, input from historians, or people who knew Ali— Fuqua allows the sports legend and civil rights icon to speak entirely for himself—and he’s darn good at it! Pulling from never-before-seen interviews, both audio and video, newspaper clippings, and footage from his Deer Lake Training Camp in Pennsylvania, What’s My Name is Ali's eulogy to himself. Born with the gift of gab, the heavyweight champion never stops talking--not even when he's in the boxing ring.
A brilliant and graceful competitor with panther sharp instincts and reflexes, Fuqua shows all facets of the sports icon's personality. Normally jovial in spirit, Ali is often seen playfully taunting his opponents before and during matches. However, when provoked, he wasn’t afraid to get vicious.
In 1964, at the age of 22, Ali converted to the Nation of Islam shedding his birth name Cassius Clay for Muhammad Ali. In doing so, Ali effectively made himself even more of a target for the U.S. government, Islamophobia, and racism. Three years later Ali was still fighting to shed his old name. He would use both his fists and his words to get his point across.
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