Filmmaker Discusses New Muhammad Ali Documentary

Steven Leckart dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss "What's My Name: Muhammad Ali," which premiers on HBO

Taz and the Moose
May 14, 2019 - 9:55 am

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Writer, director and producer Steven Leckart dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his new film, “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali,” a two-part documentary series that premiers Tuesday on HBO.

“We let him tell his own story,” Leckart said on Taz & The Moose. “There’s no talking heads, no interviews. It’s all old footage of Ali, old clips of Ali, old audio of Ali. So you live with this man and his voice and him telling his story – his perspective, his poetry – for three hours.”

The film, directed by Antoine Fuqua, explores Ali’s journey from world champion boxer to inspiring social activist through never-before-seen archival material.

“In order to unpack and understand his greatness in the ring and outside of the ring, that really tailored what we would be looking at,” Leckart said. “We look at 61 fights. You see his beginnings, you see his triumphs, you see the tragedies – and so over the course of his entire life, we keep a running clock of his fight records through the entirety of the film, really with this understanding of what kept him going, what kept pushing him. 

“And then of course we look at his religion and the changing of the name,” Leckart continued. “That’s why it’s called What’s My Name – really to get a sense of who was this man, who did he become and why are we still talking about him all these years later? Although this is a historical film, it’s as relevant today as it was 50 years ago when he said I’m not going to fight a war I don’t believe in. For athletes, I think now more than ever, speaking out about politics is so crucial.”

Through it all, Leckart believes viewers will gain a new perspective and deeper appreciation of Ali.

“I did not want to be the guy who got this one wrong,” Leckart said, “so we just worked tirelessly to get it right.”

Click below to listen to Leckart’s interview in its entirety.