Worse was yet to come. At the height of the Vietnam War, Ali's Louisville draft board reclassified him 1A, leading to the boxer's decision to declare himself a conscientious objector because of his Muslim beliefs.

As a result, Ali was stripped of his championship and sentenced to prison. Even though the Supreme Court eventually voided that conviction, Ali was not allowed to fight for 31/2 years, during which time he honed his abilities as a public speaker and lived off the fees.

Ali's faith in Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad never wavered, not even when his mentor Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. His steadfastness gradually won him regard from people who had earlier been critical, including Martin Luther King Jr., who is seen saying, "Whatever you think of his religion, you have to admire his courage."

After dealing with Ali's 1970 fight with Jerry Quarry, his first after his involuntary hiatus, "Trials" treads lightly on his life to date, talking to one of his daughters, Hana, about what it was like to be the child of a man who considered himself to be "daddy to the world."

Summarizes Lipsyte, "He didn't transcend boxing until he returned to boxing," one of the many paradoxes of a life that requires this gripping second look.

kenneth.turan@latimes.com

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'The Trials of Muhammad Ali'

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: At Laemmle's Royal, West Los Angeles