6 must-stream documentaries about sporting legends

2019-06-22 12:00
Tennis star Venus Williams.

Cape Town - What’s their secret? Superlative talent, superhuman will power, supportive families who cultivated their interests, the right coaches, a bit of luck or excellent timing - or a bit of all of the above? These sporting greats have long lists of inspiring accolades, but, sometimes, their life stories and off-field/out-of-ring antics are the most interesting thing about them.

1. What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (Showmax)

Antoine Fuqua’s two-part documentary stands out from other shows and movies about Ali in that it aims to tell the legend’s story through his own words, tracing his journey from wide-eyed Kentucky youngster to the Rome Olympics all the way to Madison Square Garden, London, Cairo, Kinshasa and Manila. And, as you’ll discover when you stream this doccie, Ali was in possession of not only golden gloves - he also had a gilded tongue.

2. Andre the Giant (Showmax) 

This HBO documentary about the WWE superstar, the man who was literally larger than life, examines his career as one of the most beloved figures in wrestling, the myths sparked by his formidable size and strength, and his forays into the entertainment world.

3. Iconoclasts, episode 17 (Showmax) 

“Being an iconoclast means really just having a blast at what you do”, is what Venus Williams says in her interview in this documentary series that profiles living legends around the world. Williams and Wyclef Jean are profiled in episode 17, and Wyclef decides that, along with being a tennis legend, she’s also a natural on the rhythm guitar. The whole series is available to binge on Showmax.

4. AB de Villiers (Showmax) 

It was a sad day for international cricket when the legendary SA batsman announced his retirement. Relive his greatest moments in this documentary series, which may or may not make it more difficult to watch the Proteas in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup.

5. Losers (Netflix) 

Their failures may be more legendary than their wins, and that is what makes these golfers, curlers, basketball players, ice skaters and other celebrity sportspeople so fascinating. This eight-episode series examines the mindsets of these extraordinary losers, gives their unique perspective on what failure can teach us, and their advice for getting back on the horse (or on the ice, or in the ring, or on the court).

6. The Dawn Wall (Netflix)

Winner of the Audience Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, this documentary is deeply inspiring, even if you have never had the desire to scale Yosemite’s cliffs. Professional climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson took on the mammoth challenge of free-climbing one of the world’s most formidable and staggeringly high rock formations (pushing 3 000 feet - that’s just over 900 metres) in January 2015. It took them 19 days, but this film was seven years in the making. Don’t miss the story of one of the greatest climbs of the decade.

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