Monday, 26th August 2019

In Free Solo, Facing Fear Is Just A Benchmark and Not the Goal

Posted on 21. Jul, 2019 by FSM Staff in Uncategorized

In <em>Free Solo</em>, Facing Fear Is Just A Benchmark and Not the Goal

An abridged version of the recent award winning documentary Free Solo goes something like this: Man climbs giant rock in Yosemite with no safety equipment for first time in history. The longer version involves a man with poor social skills, elite climbing skills, and a small circle of really patient friends. Instead of spoiling the journey for those who have not watched this epic documentary yet, I just want to focus on something simple said by protagonist Alex Honnald when he was discussing the danger of free soloing the famously tall El Capitan:


I physically moved, well flinched actually, upon hearing that quote for the first time (I’ve watched the film many more times since then). So simple yet so profound – one of those obvious tidbits of information I hear once in blue moon that completely changes my way of looking at something.

Working in the area of behavior, I often help individuals of all ages who are afraid of something. For so long, I’ve conflated conquering fear with the ultimate outcome of a goal. Consider for example, a swimming goal for a child who is afraid of the water. The goal itself is recording if the child gets in the pool or not, not necessarily if they are afraid. In that sense, conquering the fear of water isn’t the ultimate goal – getting in the pool is! Not being afraid is just a benchmark to hit along the way.

Or think of a person who wants to visit someone in another country but is too afraid of flying. If the goal is to fly to another country, they will have to learn more about flying than just how to manage their fear. Being unafraid won’t guarantee the individual makes it to his or her final destination. Imagine showing up in the wrong country? Then we’ll have new fears to deal with. Another example is a first time entrepreneur who finally overcomes their fear of taking out a large loan. They were just loaned the money, now what?

Alex Honnald’s goal was never to conquer his fear of dying. His goal was to free solo El Captian. When he was confident enough in his skills and preparation, his fear of making a fatal mistake subsided. But he still had to climb the darn rock!

You face your fear because your goal demands it.

So I’m moving forward with this new mentality of looking at conquering fear as more of a benchmark, or a dragon to be slain along the way, than the end result.

Top 11 Non-Actor Performances in the Rocky Franchise

Posted on 06. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Top 11 Non-Actor Performances in the Rocky Franchise

To celebrate the much anticipated release of Creed II this Thanksgiving, the following Top 11 list ranks the best on-screen performances of professional athletes and sports personalities appearing in the ROCKY and CREED movies. Spoiler alert coming…most people on this list are professional fighters. The rest are sports personalities who have had heavy involvement in professional sports in some way. No one on this list is a working actor, so don’t send in complaints about Mr. T being excluded. Furthermore, each person on this list had more than 10 seconds of screen time so the same goes for any complaints about Smokin’ Joe Frazier being left off. It’s not that serious people. Just sit back and enjoy these rankings and make sure to catch CREED II this Thanksgiving!

#11 Gabriel Rosado as Leo “The Lion” Sporino (CREED)
In a case of art imitating real life, Gabriel Rosado was given the task of playing the gatekeeper to bigger and better fights for main character Adonis Creed in the seventh installment of the franchise titled CREED. In simple terms, gatekeepers in boxing are generally B+ level fighters that the up and comers need to get through before moving to fight more established superstars. In real life, Rosado played stepping stone to the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, and David Lemieux. In the movie world, Leo Sporino posed a tough test for Adonis Creed who was fighting professionally for the first time on American soil. Rosado played his small part well, took some cool looking punches (that shovel hook!), and most importantly, made Adonis Creed’s character look good in the ring. Click here to watch Sporino versus Creed.

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#10 Michael Williams as Union Cane (ROCKY V)
Rocky V was released so long ago, most people have long forgotten about Michael Williams by now. Heck, most people didn’t know who he was in the first place when the movie debuted in theaters in 1990. Williams, a real life professional heavyweight at the time, played the paper champion Union Cane who was quickly vanquished by the film’s antagonist, Tommy Gunn. As a professional, Williams was a rising prospect who could never quite get over the hump, losing bouts to fighters such as Buster Douglas and Corrie Sanders. As an actor, he played the paper champion to perfection which included expressing a delusional overconfidence that he could beat Gunn then turning into a human punching bag when the actual fight took place. The fight itself was crucial to the plot of the movie as Gunn becomes the new heavyweight champion while a betrayed and slightly brain damaged Rocky watches it all from the basement of his home. Bonus points to the wardrobe people for having Cane’s everyday look consist of a turtle neck/blazer combo, gold chain, and flat top hair style. Click here to watch Cane versus Gunn.

#9 Andre Ward as Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (CREED)
The recently retired Andre Ward was a pound-for-pound superstar who flew under the radar during his career due to his good manners and lack of flare. Ward isn’t too different from his Wheeler character in CREED who calmly and coolly walks into the gym and gives Adonis Creed a harsh reality check in the form of a sparring session KO. Ward played his small part well, including his scenes with fellow professional Tony Bellew, and effectively garnered interest in a possible Wheeler-Creed showdown in the future. Click here to watch Andre Ward KO Michael B. Jordan.

#8 Lou DiBella as himself (ROCKY BALBOA)
In the sixth installment of the franchise, an aging Rocky needs a little extra convincing to get back into the ring with the reigning heavyweight in the film, played by Antonio Tarver. Can you think of anyone better to give Rocky this extra push than Lou DiBella? DiBella is a real life boxing promoter (DiBella Entertainment) who is generally loved and respected by everyone in the fight game. Some of the more notable pugilists associated with his stable include Sergio Martinez, Andy Lee, and Deontay Wilder. DiBella’s acting skills are certainly not as good as his promoting skills but his performance was solid enough to add value and a touch of realism to this film. Click here to watch DiBella do this thing.

#7 Larry Merchant as himself (ROCKY BALBOA)
Most people love themselves some Larry Merchant. You ask why? Maybe it’s because he is in the crazy old man phase of his life (a phase going on 25 years) and he does things like tell Floyd Mayweather Jr. live on HBO that he would kick his butt if he were just a few years younger. Though Larry Merchant only appeared in Rocky Balboa as a color commentator for the final fight, his short performance was memorable for the many scripted zingers it produced. It doesn’t matter that Merchant sounded like he was reading straight from a cue card. His memorable lines include referring to the bout as an execution instead of an exhibition, questioning if Balboa took his arthritis medication before the bout, and of course welcoming everyone to “Rocky-Land”. Honorable mention goes out to HBO boxing commentators Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman as well for making the final bout between Rocky Balboa and Mason Dixon one of the most memorable of all 7 films. Click here to listen to Jim, Max, and Larry provide flawless commentary during the final round of Balboa-Dixon.

#6 Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips (ROCKY III)
The story goes that the folks running the World Wrestling Foundation (currently the WWE) were so upset with Hogan’s decision to appear in Rocky III that he was blacklisted from the WWF for a short period of time. It was only when the owner’s son, Vince McMahon Jr., took control of the wrestling promotion that Hogan was invited back with open arms. Perhaps McMahon saw something in Hogan’s bigger-than-life performance as Thunderlips, the hulk of a man who beat Rocky mercilessly as part of a charity event in the film. Hogan was even good on the microphone, dubbing the match “the ultimate man versus the ultimate meatball”. Though the scenes were ultimately a bit over-the-top (Stallone movie reference), they were quite enjoyable nonetheless. Click here to watch Rocky turn the tables on Thunderlips.

#5 Leroy Neiman as Ring Announcer/Himself (ROCKY III, IV, V, ROCKY BALBOA)
Much like his contributions to the Rocky franchise, famous sports artist and painter Leroy Neiman super glues this list together at #5. Neiman (and his moustache) made appearances as a ring announcer in a few of the films announcing bouts like Balboa versus Thunderlips and Creed versus Drago. However, it’s his artwork that has been far more influential on the franchise as a whole than his on-screen performances. Hardcore fans will recognize Neiman’s colorful mural displayed at the end of Rocky III, the same one that makes its way on to the wall of Adrian’s restaurant in the sixth and seventh installments of the franchise. One doesn’t have to look too closely during Donny and Rocky’s first encounter in Creed to see Neiman’s classic painting looming in the background. Click here to watch Leroy Neiman’s mic drop moment (at the 1:19 mark).

#4 Tony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlon (CREED)
Tony Bellew plays himself in the movie CREED. But for some reason they kept referring to him as “Pretty” Ricky Conlon the entire time. All kidding aside, Bellew does an excellent job of playing a very likeable villain that Adonis Creed can’t quite vanquish in the film. Bellew’s acting during the press conference scene was hilarious as he roasted the young Creed the entire time. His performance in the ring during the film’s finale was even more impressive as he was able to work with Michael B. Jordan to create a very realistic and exciting fight. Bellew’s presence was definitely a factor in the moments building up to the climax of the film. If you enjoyed the Conlon character you will likely also enjoy the real thing. Bellew has experienced a bit of a career resurgence in the last few years, including knock outs of fellow countryman David Haye in a pair of bouts at heavyweight. Click here to watch Pretty Ricky got to war with Adonis Creed.

#3 Stu Nahan as himself (Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, ROCKY BALBOA)
Perhaps the biggest underdog on this list, California sportscaster Stu Nahan cracks the top three thanks to his history of providing blow-by-blow analysis for some of the franchise’s most significant fights. In fact, Stu Nahan is one of only a select few who appeared in every one of the first six films. He was there when Rocky took on Apollo in the first two films, Clubber Lang in the rematch for the third one, and was the commentator during the unfortunate Ivan Drago murder incident in Rocky IV. He even made his way into Rocky Balboa as the voice heard commentating the computer generated “cartoon” fight between Mason Dixon and Rocky. Nahan does his job so well that he largely goes unnoticed in the films. He serves as a great narrator during the fights, offering insights into what each fighter is thinking while keeping the dramatic pace going. He pulls it all off without sounding overly frenetic or cliché. Click here to listen to Stu Nahan provide commentary for the “cartoon fight” (Uncle Paulie’s words).

#2 Antonio Tarver as Mason “The Line” Dixon (ROCKY BALBOA)
Most known for his stunning upset knockout of Roy Jones Jr., Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver had to put on a few pounds to look like a heavyweight for the film Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, he was never quite able to regain his form after the film and his boxing career began a steady decline. That buzzkill aside, Tarver delivered above expectations as Rocky’s final foe in what many thought would be the end of the franchise. As Mason “The Line” Dixon, he is prominently featured from the outset of the movie. He plays the role of a slightly bitter, underappreciated champion well and the final bout with Rocky is possibly the best fight of all seven films. The action in the ring is as impressive as Tarver’s ability to stand side-by-side with Stallone during the pre-fight press conference and the scene right after the weigh in. We’re not making a case for a golden globe, but Tarver definitely didn’t seem like just another athlete trying to act. Click here to see Mason “The Line” Dixon try to psyche out Rocky.

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#1 Tommy Morrison as Tommy “The Machine” Gunn (ROCKY V)
When making the argument for Tommy Morrison being #1 on this list, context matters – a lot. ROCKY V is easily the weakest installment in the franchise, as the masses had a hard time stomaching a severely compromised Rocky Balboa. Why Sylvester Stallone decided to meddle with his formula is anyone’s guess. One would think even a street fight deserves its own training montage. Yet, Tommy Morrison was a bright spot in this film, deserving to make #1 on this list based on screen time alone. The year was 1990 and bad acting was a thing. Morrison’s performance hovers around B movie territory which is forgivable during this era of film when the late 80’s and early 90’s collided. For having to help carry the movie (he is the only Rocky opponent to spend significant time with Rocky’s family), the 21-year-old delivered in his big screen debut. His physical appearance lived up to his Machine Gunn nickname and his mullet, well, it was mesmerizing. His bad acting was bearable considering it was 1990 and was not the reason why this movie ended up being a stinker in the eyes of the mainstream. At the end of the day, fans were treated to a satisfying montage of video game style KOs during Gunn’s ascension and some great scenes between Rocky, Tommy, and Uncle Paulie. A few years after Rocky V, Tommy Morrison the real boxer would go on to win the world heavyweight championship by beating the legendary George Foreman. Sadly, his career was derailed 3 years later when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1996. His tragic final years are documented in the superb 30 FOR 30 documentary Tommy. Click here to see Uncle Paulie call Tommy Gunn a piece of garbage.

Retro Reviews: The Fighter

Posted on 05. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Retro Reviews: The Fighter

Based on the life of boxing favorite “Irish” Mickey Ward, The Fighter fails to deliver the knockout blow which could have made it an instant classic with moviegoers this holiday season. Much like Ward’s professional career, The Fighter flirts with greatness but falls just a hair short when all is said and done.

The timeline and some of the events presented in this tale are inaccurate but nothing that is too atypical for a movie “based on a true story.” Overall, The Fighter gets the point across and the viewer leaves the theater with a good Cliff’s Notes version of the Mickey Ward story.

For a movie about a fast paced sport like boxing, this film trudges along at a snail’s pace. The fighting scenes are spectacularly exhilarating though they are few and far between and when they do pop up, they are short lived. The bulk of this film is a series of surreal interactions between Mickey Ward, his family, and of course the obligatory love interest.

This is definitely not the first boxing movie that is not about boxing. The original Rocky film did an excellent job of telling a love story using the darker side of the sport as a backdrop. The Fighter attempts to employ the same strategy but there is simply too much going on in the movie. Is this film about a dysfunctional family? A drug addict brother? A man who has lost the belief in himself? By trying to go in so many different directions, the movie spreads itself thin and ends up lacking in substance.

In terms of acting, there are a few strong performances, most notably Christian Bale as Dickie Ekland, the half-brother of Mickey Ward who is battling crack addiction. Melissa Leo (of Homicide: Life on the Street fame) also delivers as Ward’s mother who is both loveable and annoying to the viewer, often times simultaneously. And Mark Wahlberg is his typical, average, muscular self. He does well during the tough guy scenes and fails miserably when trying to invoke that sense of drama which really would have made this flick reach the next level.

Despite all the hype and Golden Globe nominations (it seems like the only prerequisite these days to get nominated is that a film is released in December), The Fighter is a movie you can wait to see in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the price.

FreeSportsMagazine gives The Fighter a grade of B-

Retro Reviews: When the Game Was Ours

Posted on 05. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Retro Reviews: When the Game Was Ours

Reading this book has the same effect as stepping in to a time machine and setting the dial for any year in the 1980’s. Sure, there is some discussion of 1979, the early nineties, and a few events in this century, but for the most part, When the Game Was Ours is a beautifully written sports chronicle anchored in one of the greatest eras in NBA history. There is a beginning and an end to the story of Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird, but it is the middle of the journey that is the highlight of this collaboration written by Johnson, Bird, and sports journalist (as well as Around the Horn alumni) Jackie MacMullan.

The book is easy to follow and alternates between Magic and Bird’s anecdotes. It is a nice treat for sports fans to hear directly from both men about some of the biggest moments in NBA history. Many famous and not so famous names pop up throughout the voyage. Both Magic and Larry are straight forward and pull no punches. This is not one of those “dirt” books however. Besides some disturbing comments Magic makes about Isiah Thomas during the time of his HIV announcement, When the Game Was Ours is relatively drama free.

The impact of Magic and Bird’s rivalry on the struggling NBA in the early 80’s is well documented in this book. Former league commissioner David Stern’s role in turning the NBA’s fortunes around is discussed many times as well. Sports fans will have a new respect for Stern after reading this tale. His intelligence and creativity helped bring the NBA brand back in to the mainstream and his attempts to globalize the league are truly groundbreaking in sports.

There is also talk about Michael Jordan in this book though not as much as one might expect. This should not be too surprising however as this is not his book. When the Game Was Ours is based solely on events experienced mutually between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Those events usually involved the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, though this book is not exclusive to that storied rivalry. You will bump in to many familiar names and happenings from the last thirty years as you read and everything and everyone will always somehow connect back to Magic and Bird. That is the beauty of this book and this story. Magic and Bird’s fierce rivalry and eventual friendship transcended basketball and had an impact on many aspects of social life.

When the Game Was Ours is highly recommended for both casual and avid readers. You do not have to be a sports fan to appreciate the story that is being told. There is nothing complex or cryptic about Jackie MacMullan’s writing style. She tells a famous tale in simple fashion. There is an accurate account of events and her descriptions often conjured up some of my favorite NBA memories that I had completely forgotten about. Many direct quotes from NBA greats are included as well which is an added bonus. It was nice to get insight from people besides Johnson and Bird when certain topics were being discussed. For 324 pages you will be transported to a time when the game truly belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Some of the highlights of your trip will include:

*1979 NCAA Championship Game between Indiana State and Michigan State

*1984 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1985 “Choose Your Weapon” Converse commercial where the Magic/Bird friendship begins

*1987 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1992 NBA All Star Game in Orlando, Florida where Magic comes back for the first time after announcing he is HIV positive

*1992 Dream Team going for Olympic Gold in Barcelona, Spain

Free Cash for Buying Sports Stuff!

Posted on 01. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in General Sports

Free Cash for Buying Sports Stuff!

Friends have been telling me about EBATES for years, but I was always a bit skeptical. Someone is going to give me free money just for shopping? Yeah Right.

But one day, boredom struck and I decided to sign up for EBATES. I received $10 bonus cash just for signing up. Okay – so far so good.

I then took a look at which stores they partner with (which were many). I thought there is no way my beloved Nike is a part of this. It was. Wow. Okay, I’ll give this a shot I thought to myself. I clicked through to and purchased a pair of Nike SB shoes. The next day I got an e-mail from EBATES notifying me I had just earned 7% cash back on the purchase.

A few weeks later I needed a motel room for part of a road trip. So I tried my luck again with EBATES. I clicked through to a Best Western and made my reservation. After my trip (which was awesome), I got an e-mail letting me know I just received 5% cash back on my purchase. Nice!

About a month later, I received my first EBATES cash back check in the mail. Was it life changing money? No. But it was nice to get some spending cash for making purchases I would have made anyway. It was enough for a tank of gas and bite to eat by the way.

So how does EBATES work? Stores pay them a commission for sending people to their websites. EBATES then shares that commission with you. It’s that simple! Additionally, the EBATES site is always letting you know about sales, coupons, and promo codes!

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Conor McGregor knocks down Paulie Malignaggi

Posted on 11. Aug, 2017 by FSM Staff in Boxing, UFC

Conor McGregor knocks down Paulie Malignaggi

The internet is buzzing with the recent news of Conor McGregor’s knockdown of seasoned professional boxer Paulie Malignaggi during a sparring sessions. As everyone knows, Connor McGregor will be the first MMA fighter ever to fight Floyd Money Mayweather in a few weeks in Las Vegas.

Could this all be an elaborate WWE-style hoax to drum up interest in an uncompetitive fight with lagging ticket sales? Is Paulie coming back at Conor with fake beef for releasing pictures of him getting whooped? We’ve seen Paulie complain like this after the fact before, during the Adrian Broner post fight interview when AB revealed he was hooking up with one of Paulie’s girls.

Check out evidence of the knockdown for yourself.

Get Dirt Cheap Collectibles

Posted on 23. Jan, 2017 by FSM Staff in Uncategorized

Get Dirt Cheap Collectibles

Ever feel like buying some neat stuff just for the heck of it? Maybe you need that special item for you home or office. Or maybe you are just engaging in retail therapy. Whatever the case, check out FSM’s online garage sale store on eBay and grab some cool collectibles from the world of sports, entertainment, and pop-culture. Browse our virtual garage and stay a while. You are sure to find some bargains. Go ahead neighbor, click here to make us an offer we can’t refuse!

All major credit cards accepted (processed via PayPal). Shipping is 100% FREE!

Proceeds of all sales help keep this site free and allows us donate to worthy causes.

The Final 1: Executioner’s Last Stand

Posted on 28. Oct, 2016 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

The Final 1: Executioner’s Last Stand

It’s official – Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins will return at age 51 to claim his final victim.

The victim is a young lion named Joe Smith Jr., and despite the generic name, he is no pushover. In fact this Joe Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) recently knocked out light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara in a single round.

The fight, being dubbed the “Final 1″ by promoter Golden Boy will take place on December 17 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The week leading up to the bout will be full of fan festivities celebrating the career of Hopkins. Below is a statement exclusively from none other than the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya:

“As you know, we are calling this the “Final 1,” and Bernard has expressed this is the final one. We are really excited to be putting together this card. We want to thank HBO for putting this card together.

“December 17th will be historical. I want to say coming out party, but it will be the last hoorah, as a champion goes out in his terms, in his way. Only legends can do that and superstars who transcend the sport.

“What excited me about this fight is that Bernard is not fighting someone who is a walk in the park, he is fighting a difficult fight, and this gentleman has every opportunity in the book to win and win a world title. This is Hopkins, this is who Hopkins chose. Joe Smith Jr. has an amazing record and an outstanding knockout percentage that is unheard of in his division.

photo credit: Tom Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

“Hopkins will be an athlete that will transcend the sport, not just for what he has accomplished in the ring, but for outside of it, and that is huge. I am very excited and happy that this fight will be taking place in an arena where I began my professional career. It is an honor for me and thank you for giving Los Angeles and Angelenos an opportunity to watch this fight.

“Leading up to the event, we have some great events coming up. The annual Oscar De La Hoya Foundation Toy Giveaway will be taking place the day of the fight. We want to get the community involved, not only because yours truly is from here and I began my career here-but because we are celebrating a legend, such as Bernard in a way he should be honored.

“Part of the festivities leading up to the December 17th fight will be a card on December 16th on HBO Latino at one of the best casinos in California, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino,

“At Golden Boy, we are very proud to grow our young fighters. Rios vs. Tapia wasn’t an easy fight to make, because we have developed these fighters, but you have to make great fights for the fans and this will be an exciting fight to watch

“On December 16th, I think it is best to promote one of the best divisions in boxing today, the middleweight division. I acknowledge Jason Quigley, who is here today as an undefeated middleweight fighter.

“The main event fight on December 16th has a potential to be a Fight of the Year candidate, in a very hot division-light heavyweight division. Ever since I saw Shabranskyy, who I nicknamed ‘Chingonskyy’ I have seen something in him, with his finesse in the ring. He is a very special fighter and he is facing an experienced, durable fighter in Sullivan Barrera.

“Thank you to our sponsor, Tecate. I am proud to announce that Tecate will be sponsoring boxing in a whole new way in 2017, everyone will be blown away by how they will bring boxing to the next level.

“What makes Bernard Hopkins is that he doesn’t stop, he keeps going and surprises people. He would continue until he was 60 if he could, that’s what a legend is, he takes care of himself and keeps going.”

Two Free Audio Books Just For You!

Posted on 12. Oct, 2016 by FSM Staff in General Sports, Highlight

Two Free Audio Books Just For You!

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We Love You Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

Posted on 10. Jun, 2016 by FSM Staff in General Sports, Highlight

We Love You Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

Free Sports Magazine continues to mourn the passing of Muhammad Ali, who passed away on June 3rd. In addition to being a legendary fighter in the ring, Ali was a legendary human being in life. He had the courage to stand up for his beliefs in some difficult times and he will be celebrated for many years to come. Below is a collection of articles and stories from around the web that FSM feels do an exceptional job of capturing the fighting spirit of Muhammad Ali, aka THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.

How My Friend Muhammad Ali Brought People Together by Richard Lapchick

When Ali Came to India by David McMahon

The Fearlessness of Muhammad Ali by Wallace Matthews

The Best Advice Muhammad Ali Ever Gave Me by Oscar De La Hoya

Muhammad Ali: The original rapper by Chuck D from Public Enemy

I Am Ali documentary