'Actors spend their whole life searching for great characters to portray, but ultimately it is fantasy...Muhammad Ali IS a great man'
Veronica Porsche (Taken from I Am Ali)
If you get the chance to see a documentary, interview or eulogy that covers the life and career of Muhammad Ali you will see they always suffers the same problem. They all universally frustrated that there is not a superlative out there apt enough to describe him. In the Boxing profession he is known as 'The Greatest', as an athelete he holds the title as "Sportsman of the Century" and "Sports Personality of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and the BBC respectively. As a human being: he was handsome, supreme entertainer, charismatic, articulate, a poet (i'm certain you can finish the rhyme "Float like a Butterfly"), a political leader and an awe inspiring figure ...who happened to be a boxer.
The world we live in provides inspiration in abundance. Once in a while it will produce great human beings. It is a blessing for an actor when he/she gets a chance to emulate the story of a real life person. This can range from life stories that few know about (Robert DeNiro's magnum opus portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull) or life stories that need to be told (Benedict Cumberbatch's powerful portrayal of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game). Muhammad Ali has always been a person I dreamed of portraying. Art is an attempt to recreate life in all its wonders and complexities and as acting is a part of the arts, the aspiration of every actor should be as Hamlet put it 'the purpose of playing...is, to hold as 'twere, the mirror up to nature...'. Sadly, there are times when the reflection is not good enough and life contain beauty that is impossible to recreate.
Muhammad Ali is someone it would be impossible to recreate. Before Will Smith's brave but flawed attempt to portray him, the man who came closest to portaying Muhammad Ali in the movies was...Muhammad Ali. For me, he will always serve as a personal hero and inspiration of what one man can do to change the world through their profession. If one man, albeit a truly unique man, can do this through boxing, it is my aim in life to use my art to make this world a better place and inspire others to do the same.