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Celebrate KET premiere of ‘Muhammad Ali’ documentary by Ken Burns


Celebrate KET premiere of ‘Muhammad Ali’ documentary by Ken Burns

For Release: 09/10/21 1:52 PM

UPDATE (Sept. 10, 2021): In the interest of public health and safety, KET has canceled its in-person events for Ali week, such as the community reception and preview. The panel discussions, however, will continue as virtual events. Please see for more information.

Muhammad Ali, Louisville’s most famous son who went on to become one of the world’s most charismatic and controversial sports figures, is the subject of a new documentary from acclaimed filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. During the documentary’s six-years in development, the filmmakers made frequent trips to Louisville to access Ali archives and interview friends and family close to the legend. 

The eight-hour film Muhammad Ali, shown in four parts on consecutive evenings, premieres Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8/7 pm and Sunday, Sept. 26 at 7/6 pm on KET2. The full film will be available for streaming at and on the PBS Video app beginning Sept. 19. Visit

Also, on Thursday, Sept. 16, KET’s Renee Shaw will host a virtual panel discussion entitled “Muhammad Ali: A Kentucky Conversation,” via Facebook and YouTube, that reflects on Ali’s life and impact in Kentucky and around the world. The discussion will be broadcast on KET at 7 pm on Sunday, Sept. 19. (See below for details)

At the height of his fame, Ali challenged Americans’ racial prejudices, religious biases, and notions about what roles celebrities and athletes play in our society, and inspired people all over the world with his message of pride and self-affirmation. The film draws on an extraordinary trove of archival footage and photographs, as well as interviews with those who knew Ali best, to shed light on the man who competed in some of most widely viewed sporting events of all time and who became a lightning rod for critics for his principled resistance to the Vietnam War and his commitment to the Muslim faith.


KET will celebrate the documentary’s arrival with ‘Muhammad Ali’ Premiere Week, a weeklong series of events, including:

Tuesday, Sept. 14: “Ali, Celebrity & the Modern Athlete”
PBS and ESPN’s The Undefeated host a virtual conversation to examine the nature of the modern athlete and celebrity through the lens of Muhammad Ali and today’s biggest stars.
Via Zoom
7/6 pm
Register at

Thursday, Sept. 16: “Muhammad Ali: A Kentucky Conversation”
Join KET’s Renee Shaw for this virtual panel discussion, via Facebook and YouTube, that reflects on Muhammad Ali’s life and impact in Kentucky and around the world. Guests include Carlos Dixon (professional boxer), Alice & Wade Houston (HJI Supply Chain Solutions), and Tori Murden McClure (Spalding University).  Additionally, the filmmakers behind Muhammad Ali will make a guest appearance to discuss the documentary ahead of its Sunday, Sept. 19 premiere.
Via YouTube & Facebook
7/6 pm
Tune-in info found at

Saturday, Sept. 18 – Sunday, Sept. 19: Imagine Mural Festival
The Fund for the Arts presents the second annual Festival, where artists come together to create multimedia art installations celebrating Muhammad Ali’s six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.
ReSurfaced (Downtown Louisville),
618 West Main Street
12 pm – 6 pm
More information at:

Thanks to our sponsors

Corporate funding for Muhammad Ali was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by David M. Rubenstein. Major funding was also provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and by its members Alan and Marcia Docter; Mr. and Mrs. Paul Tudor Jones; The Fullerton Family Charitable Fund; Gilchrist and Amy Berg; The Brooke Brown Barzun Philanthropic Foundation, The Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation and The Augusta Brown Holland Philanthropic Foundation; Perry and Donna Golkin; John and Leslie McQuown; John and Catherine Debs; Fred and Donna Seigel; Susan and John Wieland; Stuart and Joanna Brown; Diane and Hal Brierley; Fiddlehead Fund; Rocco and Debby Landesman; McCloskey Family Charitable Trust; Mauree Jane and Mark Perry; and Donna and Richard Strong. And by viewers like you. 

Muhammad Ali Premiere Week sponsors include: Alltech, Brooke Brown Barzun, Owsley Brown III, and Augusta Brown Holland, Cave Hill Cemetery, Nana Lampton, McBrayer PLCC, Steve & Amy Trager, and the University of Louisville.

Presentation underwriters for the Muhammad Ali series are Alltech, Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Lottery.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, where learning comes to life for more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization at, on Twitter @KET and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications