Heavyweight boxing champion and cultural icon Muhammad Ali will take the spotlight in 8 Fights – The Life of Muhammad Ali, a new CBS All Access event series produced by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. One of the great figures of the 20th Century, Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) first became heavyweight champion of the world when he defeated Sonny Liston in 1964. Ali’s later refusal to serve in the army during Vietnam and his subsequent exile from boxing helped transform him from a sports hero to a genuine civil rights icon.
His banishment finally ended, Ali returned to the ring in the 1970s and built upon his boxing legend through his series of fights with Joe Frazier, and through his epic battle against George Foreman in 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali retired from the ring in 1981 after 61 total fights and two separate stints as heavyweight champion. The punishment Ali absorbed as a boxer contributed to his contracting Parkinson’s disease, which he would battle heroically – and often publicly, as during his unforgettable appearance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – until his death in 2016.
As reported by Deadline, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman will produce 8 Fights – The Life of Muhammad Ali, a new eight-part event series. CBS All Access will air the series, written by Dan Kay based on Jonathan Eig’s biography Ali: A Life. Each episode will revolve around a different important bout from Ali’s career, while also tackling Ali’s life outside the ring as he became an increasingly towering figure in the larger cultural arena.
Ali’s life has been the subject of fiction film before, most notably in 2001’s Ali starring Will Smith in the title role. In that film, director Michael Mann documented Ali’s brash personal style while tackling the controversy that swirled around him as he refused to fight in Vietnam. Many fine documentaries have also come out about Ali, including the Oscar-winning When We Were Kings, a chronicle of the “Rumble in the Jungle” when Ali used his famous rope-a-dope tactic to defeat the heavily favored George Foreman.
With 8 Fights – The Life of Muhammad Ali, Morgan Freeman and his team will create the most comprehensive fictional work on Ali to date. The series adds another prestigious project to the roster at CBS All Access, who have been speedily greenlighting content as they seek to compete with Netflix and the other streaming services out there. All Access of course has already aired one season of Star Trek: Discovery, with a second season in the works (to feature some familiar faces from earlier Star Trek series). The platform will also develop a reboot of the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone, to be produced by Jordan Peele. Reportedly, a new adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand may also land on the service.