The Greatest (1977 film)

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The Greatest
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Gries
Monte Hellman
Produced by John Marshall
Written by Muhammad Ali (short)
Herbert Muhammad &
Richard Durham (book)
Ring Lardner, Jr.
Starring Muhammad Ali
Ernest Borgnine
James Earl Jones
Robert Duvall
Music by Michael Masser
Lee Holdridge
Cinematography Harry Stradling, Jr.
Edited by Byron Brandt
Release date
19 May 1977
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English

The Greatest is a 1977 film about the life of boxer Muhammad Ali, in which Ali plays himself.[1] It was directed by Tom Gries and Monte Hellman.[1] The film follows Ali's life from the 1960 Olympics to his regaining the heavyweight crown from George Foreman in their famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in 1974. The footage of the boxing matches themselves are largely the actual footage from the time involved.

The movie is based on the book The Greatest: My Own Story written by Muhammad Ali and Richard Durham and edited by Toni Morrison.[2]

The song "The Greatest Love of All" was written for this film by Michael Masser (music) and Linda Creed, (lyrics) and sung by George Benson; it was later covered by Whitney Houston.


Rahman Ali, Howard Bingham, Harold Conrad, Don Dunphy, Lloyd Wells, Pat Patterson, and Gene Kilroy appear as themselves.

There are many uncredited roles in the film including some major characters, such as Ruby Sanderson and his girlfriend, Belinda Board, who became his wife, and Herbert Mohammed, son of Elijah Muhammad, who was Ali's manager at one point.

Lonette McKee was originally going to portray the role played by Annazette Chase.[3][4]


All music composed and produced by Michael Masser, and arranged by Masser and Lee Holdridge.

Side 1
1."The Greatest Love of All" (George Benson)Linda Creed5:32
2."I Always Knew I Had It in Me" (Benson; version 1)Gerry Goffin7:14
3."Ali's Theme" (Masser)5:18
Side 2
1."Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant) I" (Masser and Mandrill)3:42
2."Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant) II" (Masser and Mandrill)3:00
3."The Greatest Love of All" (Masser)3:14
4."Variations on Theme" (Masser)2:34
5."I Always Knew I Had It in Me" (Benson; version 2)Goffin5:21


  1. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (May 21, 1977). "The Greatest (1977) Ali's Latest Victory Is 'The Greatest'". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "The Greatest". 
  3. ^ Lucas, Bob (11 November 1976). "Angry McKee Quits Greatest And Goes To Pryor Film". Jet. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "People: June Allyson to wed; Gershwin home saved". Ottawa Citizen. 27 October 1976. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 

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