Muhammad Ali’s monumental memory continues to live on, and his career-life story in Sony Pictures’ adaptation will help to preserve the legacy of the iconic athlete and activist.
According to Deadline, the 2001 film starring award-winning actor Will Smith, returns to theaters this weekend. Directed by Michael Mann, the lens depicts the life and rise of Ali in the boxing ring, and one of his most talked about fights dubbed “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.
Smith, who’ll also serve as a pallbearer at Ali’s memorial service, shared a few touching words on the passing of his friend. “You shook up the world! My mentor and my friend. You changed my life. Rest in peace.”
In a past appearance at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year ceremony, where Ali was set to present the legacy award named after him to golfer Jack Nicklaus, Smith shared the extensive time period that he went through in order to step into the ring as Ali for the biopic.
“I worked to transform myself into the man who changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and shook up the world,” he shared. “That’s really what makes my job so beautiful as an actor.” Smith was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 74th Academy Awards and won Outstanding Actor at the NAACP Image Awards. The film also starred his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith who played Sonji Roi, Ali’s first wife.
Ali passed away at the age of 74 on June 3 from septic shock. He also had a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in the mid-80s.