Boxing, race and politics will appear in the upcoming TV series about Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali

The show will be based on ‘Blood Brothers’, a non-fiction book by historian Purdue

Update story: Randy Roberts’ book has also inspired a documentary, which is set to premiere September 9 on the Netflix streaming service. The documentary film “Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali” is produced by Kenya Barris, creator of “Black-ish” and directed by Marcus A. Clarke, who has worked on Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Rapture.” Roberts is a writer and consultant on the project and will act as a camera expert on the film. Netflix has released a intro video on August 19.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — For Randy Roberts, the tragic friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali is more than just a gripping tale from America’s past. As with much of history, the past can provide a useful lens for thinking about the world today.

“I think history is infinitely relevant, and the story of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X shows that. I hope it helps people question why we see the same problems again and again in our history,” said Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History at Purdue University.

Roberts’ book “Blood Brothers: A Deadly Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X,” is being adapted for television.

“Blood Brothers,” published in 2016 by Basic Books, uses previously overlooked archives and FBI files to offer a nuanced look at the tense relationship between the two giants. of the American civil rights movement and the tragedy of their failure. The book tells the story of a friendship built on secrets and surrounded by violence, as young Cassius Clay balances sports and politics on his path to becoming Muhammad Ali.

“Boxing is violence. The Muslim nation is very violent. “The police and the civil rights movement are very violent,” says Roberts. “Of these, these two proud, articulate Black men formed a dynamic relationship. From the very first time, I saw in this story the works of an American ‘Macbeth’. It’s definitely about violence, but also competition, betrayal, and all the fragility of humanity.”

The TV adaptation of “Blood Brothers” will be written by Charles Murray, whose screenplay includes “Luke Cage,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Executive producers include Murray through Raising Kane Films, Creative 7’s NBA star Carmelo Anthony and Narrative Film Group’s Shelby Stone. The eight-part limited series, produced by A+E Studios, will be an impressive reinterpretation of the book’s story.

“I plan to reach out to members of both families to create the most comprehensive show possible, and I hope that the final product will give audiences insight they have never seen before. yes,” Murray told Deadline about his creative vision for the show.

Roberts co-wrote “Blood Brothers” with Johnny Smith, a Purdue alumnus (class of 2011), now Julius C. “Bud” Shaw Professor of Sports History at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Smith and Roberts will serve as consulting producers on the series, providing historical insight into when the dramatic version was born.

Roberts, also a Purdue University 150th Anniversary Professor, is the author of more than 20 nonfiction books about historically significant figures from sports, the military, and American pop culture. His subjects include John Wayne, Mickey Mantle and Charles Lindbergh, although boxing makes regular appearances. Roberts has published biographies of boxing legends Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey, and often teaches courses on sports and race.

When asked what kind of conversations “Blood Brothers” could bring up, he said that, like most moments in history, it’s been about questions rather than answers.

“More than anything, I wanted this story to make people question,” he said. “It’s not unusual for these things to happen before, but why does it keep happening? Why hasn’t everything changed? What was overlooked?”

The print-to-TV adaptation will help those questions reach a wider audience, which Roberts says has always been the main ambition behind his work as an educator and writer.

“One thing I’ve always tried to do in my career is reach people,” says Roberts. “In my classes at Purdue, I have a large audience. A book makes that class bigger; a documentary makes it even bigger. A scripted series increases accessibility even further.”

Roberts is no rookie when it comes to working with television. He has appeared in or advised on over 50 TV documentaries and films for the History Channel, ESPN Classic, HBO, BBC, PBS, E!TV and the ABC, CBS and NBC networks. As a historian of popular culture, he is often quoted in national media and appeared in national media and radio stations. He served as a consultant and camera expert on the Emmy Award winning series “10 Days That Changed America Suddenly”.

Roberts’ most recent book, “War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadows of the Great War,” was published in March 2020 from Basic Books. “War Fever” tells the story of a country that is fighting abroad and at home as Americans face World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a leading public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked 5th among the most innovative universities in the United States by US News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and extraordinary discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue provides a transformative education for all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue froze tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue relentlessly pursues the next giant leap at

Writer: Christy McCarter,

Contact via media: Amy Patterson Neubert,

Source: Randy Roberts,

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