The Big Misconception About Malcolm X And Muhammad Ali's Friendship, According To The Director Of Netflix's Blood Brothers

Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali standing side by side

Coming to Netflix September 9, 2021, Marcus A. Clarke’s documentary Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali takes a deep dive into the friendship and falling out of these two iconic public figures. If you think you know their stories and how they intertwine, think again. The director is setting the record straight and clearing up a big misconception about Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.

Human rights activist Malcolm X and professional boxer and activist Muhammad Ali made headlines due to their career successes, activism, and connections to the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X has often been credited with introducing Muhammad Ali to his faith (and subsequently changing his name to Muhammad Ali from Cassius Clay), but it turns out that is not the case. Here’s what Blood Brothers director Marcus A. Clarke told CinemaBlend:

I think people will be kind of surprised to realize that while Malcolm X is pivotal in Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali becoming part of the nation, he's not the one who actually introduces him to the Nation. In fact, the man who introduces him to the Nation is a man by the name of Sam Saxon, Abdul Rahman is his Muslim name, and he's the man who actually introduces Cassius Clay directly to the nation. He had heard about the Nation of Islam. He had kind of been introduced to the teachings early on, but he didn't really have that firsthand experience and wasn't really brought to the nation until you meet Sam Saxon. Sam Saxon is the guy who actually brings him to Malcolm X. And so in our film, we fill in a lot of those blanks in terms of how Cassius Clay actually joined the nation and who brought him there. It's a fascinating story. I think people are gonna be really interested in finding out how Cassius Clay actually was introduced to Malcolm X.

While many have thought for years that Malcolm X introduced Muhammad Ali to the Nation of Islam, that credit correctly goes to Sam Saxon. It’s even implied that it was Malcolm X in Regina King’s One Night In Miami, but it should be remembered that while an absolutely beautiful and all-around excellent film, One Night In Miami is a fictionalized account of the meeting of four real people, adapted from the stage play of the same name. Being a documentary, Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali is a true story that includes interviews with close personal friends and family members of both men.

Muhammad Ali’s introduction to the Nation of Islam may be the biggest revelation for viewers of Blood Brothers but it’s far from the only. This film is full of archival footage from various speaking engagements and press opportunities with Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X both together and separate, as well as a first-hand account from people who were close to these men. It’s a must-watch for any history buff.

Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali from director Marcus A. Clarke is available on Netflix September 9. For more Netflix documentaries, check out our curated list of the best. Netflix also has some amazing documentary series to stream.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.