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The Fighters (1974)

On March 8, 1971, in Madison Square Garden, for an unprecedented purse of $5 million--Muhammad Ali met Joe Frazier to contest for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. In ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Muhammad Ali ... Himself
Joe Frazier ... Himself
Richie Havens ... Himself
Burt Lancaster ... Himself


On March 8, 1971, in Madison Square Garden, for an unprecedented purse of $5 million--Muhammad Ali met Joe Frazier to contest for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. In cinema verité style, this film presents the build-up, the perspectives of the fighters, fans, and moneymen. Fans predictions were split down the middle: Ali was The Greatest; Frazier was terrifying. Frazier hit like a truck; Ali was quicker than lightning. The fight itself is presented in its entirety without any announcer commentary, and by today's standards, the film is grainy, worn-looking, and sounds terrible--all ultimately unimportant--as the crowd noise, the ring announcer, and the bell take you back to the beginning, and the tale of two fighters who would eventually become inextricably intertwined in boxing history.

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Release Date:

January 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ali, the Fighter See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CinAmerica See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

NBC edited 43 minutes from this film for its 1977 network television premiere. See more »


Jesus Will Fix It
by Albertina Walker (as A. Walker)
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User Reviews

Better than When We Were Kings
5 April 1999 | by caprijazSee all my reviews

I had the opportunity to see this rarely shown movie yesterday at the American Museum of the Moving Image. In addition, the director was there to hold a question-and-answer session after the film. This film is way way more interesting, compelling, complex, and gloss-free than the recent film When We Were Kings (which was very good in its own right). It deals, in cinema verité style, with the weeks leading up to, and the immediate aftermath of, the 1971 Ali-Frazier fight. There are many scenes that take place on the streets of Manhattan, during which the camera eavesdrops on the passionate arguments between ordinary citizens who were of the two strictly divided Ali and Frazier fight-fan camps. The exciting fight is shown--all 15 rounds--in its entirety, without any sportscaster's narration--a conscious and brilliant decision by the director. The movie is better than When We Were Kings because it is less blatantly in Ali's camp--in that movie Foreman, a charismatic man in his own right, is portrayed as an inarticulate, unintelligent boxer who deserved no respect. In Ali: The Fighter both fighters are revealed as complicated, graceful, and intelligent boxers as well as human beings. Also--since it takes place in 1971, the Vietnam War era, when Ali was much-maligned and hated by many people for his conscientious-objector status--it makes for a much more psychologically interesting film. This is a must-see for any boxing/Ali/Frazier/documentary fan. Unfortunately it's not available on video as of yet. Apparently, plans are in the works.

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