Muhammad Ali's daughter reveals that the great boxing legend is "just trying to get to heaven".
Hana, the daughter of Ali and his third wife Veronica Porsche, tells HuffPostUK:
Even now, he tells me, he’s just trying to get to heaven,” she smiles. “And I tell him that his children and his friends all know each other and love each other, so he’s safe in that regard.”
Hana is one of many of Ali's family members sharing their experiences in 'I Am Ali', the private story of the family man behind the legend of boxing, of civil rights, of conscience, of unparalleled celebrity, and includes tape recordings that Ali made himself with his children.
The film does not shirk the more challenging parts of Ali’s family life, that he had relationships outside his marriages, resulting in a widespread family of seven children, who were introduced to each other at a young age.
“He didn’t hide his faults,” says Hana now. “He faced up to things and brought us all together.
Ali’s eldest daughter Maryum admits the first time she saw the intimate story of her father told in the film ‘I Am Ali’, she “cried like a baby”.
Maryum, the eldest of Ali’s seven children, tells HuffPostUK: “I was bawling my eyes out. I’ve seen it 20 times in all, so I can get through it now, but the first few times were tough.”
As well as the family archives, 'I Am Ali' explores some of his most controversial moments, including his picture on the cover of Esquire magazine, when he was photographed shirtless, with his body being pierced by arrows.
“I never knew the background to that,” says Maryum in wonder. “I thought they just had the idea on the day. I had no idea of the theme of persecution behind it. I had many moments like that.”
The cover, taken in 1968 was one of the most controversial in the magazine’s history, and was inspired by the depiction of 3rd-century martyr St Sebastian, a man punished for his own religious beliefs. Ali posed for the photo six months after he had been stripped of his boxing title and licence, following his refusal to adhere to the army draft. More than just a visually striking image, the film shows him giving each of his arrows a famous name, of those who had barred his way from competing.
Ali’s younger daughter Hana was equally surprised by this story, but thrilled to hear the childhood recordings of her, her siblings and their famous father finally making it to air.
“I always wondered what would happen to them,” she tells HuffPostUK.
“It takes me right back to that time when I was a child, and I would go to school and say proudly, ‘My father’s Muhammad Ali’, as children do.
“But then my father would tell me off for that. He would remind us that, as well as our pride and our dignity, we needed to stay humble.
“He always said to us, ‘Be in this world, but not of this world.’ He didn’t want us to have too much attachment to any riches around us.”
'I Am Ali' is on release now at selected cinemas. Watch the trailer below...