Maori Television to screen greatest sports stories

maori-tv-logo-300pxFree-To-Air sport seems to be pretty rare these days thanks to Sky’s monopoly on it.  While TVNZ have pretty much given up on it other than covering it in their news bulletins and TV3 having no funds to even consider bidding, thankfully Maori Television are there to at least bring us some sports documentaries.

Maori Television has acquired the rights to some of the greatest sports stories of our time from ESPN’s renowned 30 for 30 and Nine for IX documentary series.

Starting Thursday, October 24 at 8.30pm, the channel will screen 20 documentaries, each one focusing on a particular story or moment in sporting history, usually told from the perspective of the sports star or personality involved at the time.

Maori Television general manager of programming Haunui Royal says the acquisition of the ESPN documentaries shows the broadcaster’s commitment to quality documentary-making.

“At Maori Television we are passionate about providing quality documentaries for all New Zealanders,” he says. “This series of sporting stories illustrates all that we love about sports – the passion, drama and intrigue.”

The line-up explores topics including Muhammad Ali’s preparations to win back the World Heavyweight Title, how Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky was signed to play for the Los Angeles Kings and how gangster rap is forever linked to Oakland Raiders.

The new Thursday documentaries replace Maori Television’s popular sports chat show CODE, which finishes for the season tonight.

Screening Schedule October 24 to January 23

October 24: Muhammad and Larry
A look at the October 1980 Muhammad Ali – Larry Holmes fight and its effect on both fighters, featuring fresh interviews with participants and previously unseen lead-up footage from both fighters’ camps.

October 31: June 17, 1994
A day known for its firsts, lasts, triumphs and tragedy of American sports and sports heroes. Famously, it was the day that OJ Simpson, took his slow ride around the Southern Californian freeways holding a gun to his head.

November 7: Fernando Nation
Fernando Valenzuela was one of the most captivating pitching phenomena baseball has ever seen. Director Cruz Angeles recalls the euphoria around Fernando’s arrival in America and the “Fernandomania” that swept the country.

November 14:  The Birth of Big Air
Academy Award nominee Spike Jonze and extreme sport fanatic Johnny Knoxville, along with director Jeff Tremaine (Jackass: The Movie), showcase the inner workings and exploits of the man who gave birth to “Big Air“ – Mat Hoffman, BMX rider.

November 21: Into the Wind
In 1980, Terry Fox’s attempt to run across Canada in support of fundraising for cancer research captured the attention of his fellow Canadians and the world. Sadly, Fox was forced to quit his run due to a re-occurrence of cancer that took his life at age 23. In the film, we hear from Fox’s family and friends, interwoven with rich archival footage.

November 28: Run Ricky Run
Follow the life of Ricky Williams, a star for the Miami Dolphins who walked away from the sport at the height of his career over drug allegations. Ricky tells a different story about betrayal and turning his back on fame, fortune and celebrity status.

December 5: The Real Rocky
A profile of Chuck Wepner, the original inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character, and how the glory of Rocky eluded him as he took several strange turns in an effort to stay in the spotlight.

December 12: Straight Outta LA
Rapper-turned-filmmaker Ice Cube turns the camera on himself to tell how his genre-defining group NWA forged an unlikely relationship with the Oakland Raiders, a team whose swagger and style captivated LA during their troubled 13-season stay.

December 19: Runner
“Runner” tells the story of the controversial collision at the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA between Mary Decker and Zola Budd in the women’s final of the 3000-metre run.

January 2: The Diplomat
Katarina Witt was a figure-skating champion and the darling of the East German regime, winning six European titles, five world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals. The Diplomat examines her ascent in the symbolically loaded Cold War sports scene.

January 9: Without Bias
The death of Len Bias from a cocaine-induced heart attack, two days after Boston selected him as the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, and its effect on casual drug use, especially by the sports community.

January 16: Four Days in October
The Boston Red Sox overcome “The Curse” and defeat the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. In the process, they also become the first team ever to win a series after trailing three games to none.

January 23: King’s Ransom
The 1988 trade of Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings and the effect it had on him, his fans in Edmonton, and the popularity of hockey in Southern California.

January 30: No Limits
French free diver Audrey Mestre was 28 when she attempted a record-breaking dive that forced her to remain under water for more than eight minutes and ultimately took her life.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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