‘Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes’ Gives New Insight Into Muhammad Ali

HBO/Daphne Productions

Between 1968 and 1979, boxing superstar Muhammad Ali appeared on the Emmy-winning Dick Cavett Show no less than fourteen times. With natural charisma, quick wit and playful pugnacity, Ali was a perfect foil for the sophisticated broadcast host, and together they struck television gold.

Interweaving clips from the show with new insight from Dick Cavett himself, as well as expert commentary from authors, sports commentators and civil rights activists, Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, debuting Tuesday, February 11, is a fascinating time capsule in which the issues of the era play out between two men who formed an unlikely and enduring bond.

Muhammad Ali Dick Cavett

HBO/Daphne Productions

Whether discussing his prowess in the ring, the status of race relations in America or his controversial decision to refuse induction into the army during the Vietnam War, Ali was an entertaining and provocative guest.

The world first heard of Muhammad Ali, then known by his birth name Cassius Clay, when he won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics as an 18-year-old boxing prodigy. He decided to use his newfound fame to bring America’s attention to racial, religious and political injustice, and elicited difficult conversations about these issues in American homes.

The special includes insightful interviews from an array of experts who shed light on Ali’s legacy, including: Civil Rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, sportswriter and longtime commentator for HBO World Championship Boxing Larry Merchant, Ali biographer Thomas Hauser, columnist Juan Williams, and author Ilyasah Shabazz. Archival interviews from The Dick Cavett Show include Ali’s former trainer Angelo Dundee and boxing champions Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Frazier.

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, Tuesday, February 11, at 9/8c, HBO