HBO is airing a special edition of The Fight Game to honor Muhammad Ali, and ESPN The Magazine’s tribute issue is out on stands this week as well. Here are details on both.
HBO’s The Fight Game to Air Special Ali Tribute:
The Fight Game with Jim Lampley: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali an HBO Sports presentation exploring his impact on sports, culture and politics, debuts Tuesday at 11pm on HBO.
The guest list for the special includes Hollywood icon Jack Nicholson, Muhammad Ali’s longtime friend; former heavyweight champion George Foreman, who fought Ali in 1974; and rapper/ film star LL Cool J. Also participating in multiple discussion panels will be social activist Harry Edwards; 1968 Olympic medalist Tommie Smith, who was stripped by the IOC for taking a stand at the medal ceremony; New Yorker journalist Kelefa Sanneh; boxer and HBO commentator Roy Jones Jr; HBO broadcaster Max Kellerman; and former HBO Sports commentator Larry Merchant, who covered Ali through his entire professional career.
ESPN The Magazine’s The Meaning of Muhammad Ali issue on Newsstands Friday
The Mag dedicates 34 pages not only to Muhammad Ali’s life but also to the multitude of ways the boxer helped define the lives of so many others. The introduction by Steve Wulf, “The Meaning of Ali,” sets up the construct of how one man could mean so much, and represent so many ideals, to so many different people. The tribute to “The Greatest” looks at the many sides of Ali with remembrances, essays, numbers, dates, photographs and his own words.
It’s tough to do justice, though, to a man who defeated not only the fiercest fighters in the world but also the even more formidable forces of convention and establishment. In his intimate portrait of Ali, William Nack recounts what the boxer said to his corner after weathering Joe Frazier’s 10th-round barrage during the 1975 Thrilla in Manila: “This must be what dyin’ is like.” But just as Ali refused to quit that night in the Philippines, he’s still answering the bell … and challenging us to give it our best shot.
Issue highlights and features:
- “Simply, The Greatest,” by William Nack, takes a measure of the man with richly reported scenes of the many chapters of Ali’s life. A commissioned work by Kentucky poet Shayla Lawson titled “Float Like a Butterfly” accompanies this piece.
- The full-spread timeline “The Life of Ali” traces his milestones in and out of the ring: from the first time he laced on gloves, through his storied career as a fighter, activist and humanitarian, and to his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- In “Leading With His Right,” the Undefeated’s Derrick Z. Jackson delves into the impact of Ali’s defiance during the 1960s on the civil rights movement, giving it the most recognizable face and the strongest voice in the world.
- Through his essay “Our Name, Our Religion,” Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib discusses how Ali’s devotion to Islam informed America and inspired those who shared his faith.
- The photo spread “It’s Not Bragging If You Can Back It Up” presents stunning images that breathe life into Ali’s greatest quotes, just as his words provide context to one of the most photographed athletes in history.
- The data dive “Ring Master” breaks down Ali’s numbers in a way that lends new perspective on a historic career.
- In “His Gentle Soul,” Ali’s daughter Hana shares her remembrances of her father and select anecdotes from family and friends that reveal a private, peaceful side to the most public fighter in the world.
- In his column The Truth, Howard Bryant explains why it is wrong to label Ali “transcendent” unless one truly appreciates what he stood for.