I’ve been remiss in not recommending ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. I’m a few weeks behind, but with the exception of the Baltimore Colts band episode (which I accidentally deleted after watching only 20 minutes), I’ve enjoyed every episode so far.

Last night I watched <em>Muhammad and Larry</em>, an amazing piece about the 1980 Muhammad Ali – Larry Holmes heavyweight championship fight. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. It has all the classic elements for a tragedy that many sports documentaries are built around. But it goes well beyond your standard tragedy. Knowing what we know now, and watching Ali 29 years ago, it’s heartbreaking that no one around him could admit he was already slipping badly. The scene where he can barely get the speed bag going it painful to watch. And the moment where he asks what Larry Holmes said about him, and he shares his opinion of Holmes, is magical.

The fall of 1980 was when I first started paying attention to boxing. I vaguely remember the Holmes-Ali fight, but it was Leonard-Duran II, a month later, that I really recall. I was too young to be in awe of Ali, but I knew that everyone wanted him to win, so Holmes must be a bad guy. Watching this film, Holmes may be the best, most grounded guy to ever be heavyweight champ.

Tonight is the premiere of episode six, <em>The Legend of Jimmy the Greek</em>. There’s one more before Christmas before the series goes on hiatus until after the college basketball season ends. If you’re not watching already, I highly suggest checking out the reruns, which will no doubt be available at all hours on the ESPN family of networks.

<a href=”http://30for30.espn.com/”>ESPN 30 for 30</a>