Picks and Pans Review: Muhammad Ali

updated 09/02/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/02/1996 01:00AM

TNT (Tues., Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET)

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Anyone who doesn't understand why Muhammad Ali is the most famous, and probably the most beloved, person on the face of the earth can find out tonight. The documentary includes memorable footage from Ali's first amateur fights in 1959 to his heartrending pummeling at the hands of Larry Holmes in 1980. And it demonstrates that for about a decade and a half, Ali really could float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and talk like no one before or since. Highlights include surprisingly touching comments from Bryant Gumbel and some of Ali's victims. The program pays scant attention to the "phantom punch" that decked Sonny Liston in their second championship bout in 1965 and glides past the role promoter Don King played in encouraging Ali to fight long after his skills had fled. But it's still a fascinating work about a man who was, and is—as he used to remind us so often—the Greatest.

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