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This Sporting Life: The legendary heavyweight champ, 66, had an amateur boxing record of 127 wins and only five loses. He won the Olympic gold medal in 1960 in the light heavyweight category and as a professional defeated more title holders and contenders than any heavyweight.
Reel Life: In 1962, Ali, then going by his birth name of Cassius Clay, appeared in the opening sequence of Rod Serling's boxing drama "Requiem for a Heavyweight," knocking out an aging fighter played by Anthony Quinn. Ali is a powerful presence on screen.
Success, though, eluded him with his 1969 Broadway musical debut in "Buck White," which closed within a week.
Ali rebounded in 1977 in "The Greatest," based on his autobiography. Said Variety: "Muhammad Ali is a natural performer. More to the point, starring in his own autobiopic . . . he brings to it an authority and a presence that lift John Marshall's production above some of the limitations inherent in any biopic."
Ali, though, bit off a bit more than he could chew in the 1979 miniseries "Freedom Road," based on the Howard Fast novel, as Gideon Jackson, a former slave who becomes a member of the U.S. Congress. Reviews were decidedly mixed.