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HBO Sets Muhammad Ali Documentary From Antoine Fuqua and LeBron James

Variety logo Variety 12/12/2016 Debra Birnbaum
© Provided by Variety

The “Greatest of All Time” is getting the HBO treatment.

The cabler is partnering with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and LeBron James for a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali.

The as yet-untitled docu, which will explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, has started production. It hails from James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. No air date has been set.

“Muhammad Ali is indisputably one of the most iconic and distinctive figures in the history of world sports,” said Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax. “His impact resonates far beyond the boxing ring and is woven deep into the cultural and social tapestry of the second half of the 20th century. From the moment LeBron James told us of his deep visceral connection to Ali’s life and legacy, we were committed to helping him realize this film, and our enthusiasm has only grown as Antoine Fuqua has developed his compelling cinematic vision for telling one man’s incredible journey.”

Said Fuqua, “Muhammad Ali meant many things to many people, and he is someone who had a deep impact on me from an early age. Being given the opportunity to tell his story, both inside and outside of the ring, is a privilege, and a dream come true.”

The project marks the first feature-length production for HBO from James and Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment.

“It’s tough to put into words how much it means to me to be a part of this project honoring the legacy and telling the extremely important story of the great Muhammad Ali,” said James. “He transcended sports and used his platform to empower people, which paved the way for all athletes and people of every race and gender that came after him, myself included.”

The film is being produced with participation from Ali’s family estate coordinated through Jamie Salter, chairman and CEO of the Authentic Brands Group, the majority stakeholder of the Muhammad Ali Brand.

The doc will combine archival footage and never-before-seen photos and footage from private collections of the Ali family and others. It will also feature what HBO billed as “gorgeous, cinematic recreations” of key moments in Ali’s life, in the ring and at home.

“Without a doubt, Muhammad’s life journey provides simple yet extraordinary lessons for all of us, with perhaps the most important one being, to see and embrace the humanity in all people,” says Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow. Ali passed away in June 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

James, Fuqua and Carter will serve as executive producers, along with Salter, Paul Wachter, Bill Gerber and Glen Zipper. The project will be produced by Sean Stuart and written by Steven Leckart. 

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