Thursday, 26 May 2016

“I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali Exhibition at the O2. May 2015

Tickets: On the official website the tickets are £18.00 plus £2.75 booking fee, so nearly £21.00 in total. I thought that was a bit much. I bought my tickets from Box Nation  it was £14.40 plus £2.50 booking fee so £16.90 in total. There was another website which offered £14.50 tickets and just a small card fee but their ticket entry time was 11:30am only and I wanted to get there early. Box Nation offered different time slots. To be honest, I don’t think it would have mattered because we got there nearly half an hour early and I don't think the lady even checked the time. I think the time slots are more relevant at busy periods.

We arrived at 10:40am. It was very quiet. The Dome was quiet. (That's why I think the entry time wouldn't have made too much difference.) We spent about 2 hours in the exhibition, which I was very surprised about. I didn't expect to spend that long there.
Although I am a sports fan, I am not really a boxing fan. But Muhammad Ali transcends sport. His life, his achievements, his fights inside and outside the ring, his principles and what he stood for. Masha'Allah, he is a great man who had more influence than probably he realises but he has used the status that Allah has blessed him with for good. I got the impression that the talk and bravado was simply just that; for his fights. Deep down he is a quiet man.

For the exhibition you are given an audio guide. You see the numbers on the wall (e.g. round 1) and enter it in the guide then listen to the clip. The beginning is a series of rooms dedicated to the early part of his life: where he was born, his family, where /how he learnt to box, his career as an amateur, the Olympics, his conversion to Nation of Islam, his early professional fights, the Vietnam War up until the George Foreman, 1974, fight. Then you reach the rotunda, which is where it got a bit confusing. The rotunda showcases his professional fights. 

There is lots of video footage, his belts, his gowns, the magazine covers etc. But it was hard to follow the audio guide because it was hard to find the numbers around the room. I basically just started listening to the guide in numerical order regardless of where I was standing in the room. But even then the guide wasn't in chronological order. For example, a clip was playing regarding Sonny Liston. But then it talked about all of the fights the early one and the later ones and Sonny Liston’s death; same with George Foreman. So I found it confusing. It wasn’t really in chronological order. There a few additional rooms off the rotunda. They were regarding Henry Cooper and Paddy Monaghan. And the last room reflects on his life post boxing; particularly the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and that moment when he lit the Olympic flame and was given a replacement gold medal. But also his humanitarian work, his efforts to help others, his fight towards peace.

 On the whole, I really liked it. As I mentioned, I’m not a boxing fan but Muhammad Ali is one of those people whose life is about more than just sport. And he made as big an impact outside his field as he did in it. I, like everyone else, knows that Muhammad Ali will always remain a legend in his sport and will always be regarded as one of the greatest ever sportsmen. I found it interesting to learn more about his life, his famous fights and rivalries and I did like seeing the belts and gowns.

Things I didn't like: the confusing rotunda part, as was stated earlier. I also thought it was very loud! In each room or area there was a video tape playing on loop and the volume was quite high. And then you're trying to listen to the audio guide as well. I did actually get a bit of an earache!

I will write some notes and post some more pictures soon, Insha’Allah.

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