I Am Ali (2014) Movie Script

Will you enter, mystery
challenger, and sign in, please?
Are you in the movies?
One down, nine to go.
Mr. Gabel.
Are you an athlete?
Miss Francis.
Are you a golfer, mystery guest?
That's five down and five to go.
Mr Gabel.
Are you, a boxer?
- Yes.
- Miss Francis.
Boy, that sure isn't the
voice for it, is it?
Let me see now.
What could that be?
Are you a fellow who was named
after a chap
that they brought the mountains to?
By the name of Muhammad?
- Are you Cassius Clay?
- Well...
Assalamu alaikum, Grandma!
- Walaikum assalam!
- What y'all doing?
Downstairs watching television.
- Yeah? Where's May May?
- Downstairs.
Don't tell her.
Put her on the phone.
OK. May May!
- Yes?
- Assalamu alaikum!
- Walaikum assalam, Daddy!
- How's my daughter?
Fine. We went to go
see Mama Bird.
Good. I heard that. Did you...
were you happy to see her?
I was just getting dressed.
I'm getting ready to go look at
another place like Deer Lake.
- You are?
- Yes.
It might be possible that if I
like it, I might fight again.
Don't fight again, please.
Take the title back four times.
Can you imagine?
Don't fight again.
You're getting old.
- I'm getting what?
- Old.
Too old?
How old is your daddy?
- How old? Like, 37?
- That's right.
Angelo Dundee is in the ring,
the veteran trainer
of Muhammad Ali
since the first couple
of fights of his career.
The crowd is starting to chant, "Ali.
Ali. " Like old times.
Ali is six feet three, but
Trevor Berbick is not small.
He's six feet two and a half.
Ali is almost 40 years old.
Trevor Berbick is 27.
Here he comes.
What a production this has
turned out to be.
I knew what I wanted to do
at the age of 12 years old,
and every thing has a purpose in
life and every man has a purpose.
And it's the knowing of that purpose
which enables every soul to fulfill it.
And he who knows his life purpose, then
he knows exactly where he's going.
I'm not conceited,
I'm just convinced.
- My buddy, Muhammad Ali.
- How's the weather?
How's the weather?
Beautiful here.
Beautiful here.
My name is Gene Kilroy. I'm the former
business manager of Muhammad Ali.
The greatest fighter of all times.
The greatest friend.
The greatest guy.
I learned a lot from him.
Yeah, man, I step in town, I jump off
a plane and in my cool white suit.
, brothers!
Boy, it was better
than a ringside seat.
You know, a ringside seat, you
gotta go when the fight's over.
To be part of the victory
and part of the defeat,
you know, that was a special thing.
You know, be right there.
I wanna introduce a long-time
advisor of the champ, Gene Kilroy,
who is our spokesperson today.
It's nice to be here.
Looking back over my life,
somebody asked me one time,
"Do you have any fear?"
I said, "The only fear I have is that
some day my mother's gonna wake me up
and say 'It's time to go to school',
that my life has been a dream. "
With Muhammad Ali, I've been
blessed to be around that man.
There are multi-millionaires who
would have given a million dollars
to be with Ali every day
like I've been with him.
My first encounter with Muhammad
Ali was the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
He was like
the Mayor of Olympic Village.
He wears a gold medal around,
everybody wanted to be around him.
everybody wanted to meet him.
Tell me how you came to get
such a Roman name as that.
Well, as I understand, I'm
Cassius Marcellus Clay the Sixth
and my great-great-grandfather
was a Kentucky slave
and he was named
after some great Kentuckian.
Cassius Marcellus Clay is
a great name in Kentucky.
And, really, where he was from
and where it was all originated,
I couldn't tell you, but since I've
reached a little fame in boxing,
most people want to know where I'm
from and, where did I get that name.
But really, I haven't
really checked on it,
so I see that I'm gonna have
to go look and...
You'll have to look it up.
See what it's all about, now
that I'm getting interviews.
- Hey, Gene.
- Yeah.
I heard a little story you might like.
Goes like this.
As a boy, I grew up in
Louisville, Kentucky.
In the state of Kentucky that has
pretty horses and fast women.
I come from a really loving,
close family.
My dad and ma were
Christian people.
Very hardworking
and good, decent people.
My dad was a commercial artist.
My dad was the best sign painter
in Louisville, Kentucky.
Way back in a little one-horse
town called Louisville, Kentucky,
back in 1941, Mr Cassius Clay
married Mrs Odessa Grady
who later became Mrs Cassius
Clay and they had a little son.
This is Mrs Clay.
And this is my daddy.
Mr Cassius Clay Senior.
- Say hello.
- Hello. Hello.
- We're very proud of him, lady.
- Thank you.
I was born in 1943.
Muhammad was born in 1942.
We were 18 months apart.
We had fun.
In those days he was
known as Cassius Clay.
He was loquacious, he was cocky.
He's always been different.
He was born for greatness.
Today we're going to my old home
site down at 3302 Grant Avenue,
here in Louisville, Kentucky.
The house where Muhammad Ali
and myself was raised.
We shared a room, and that was one of
the most happiest times of my life.
He was funny. He was funny. And
everything he did, I would go with him.
The running,
the boxing, everything.
I was just his best companion in
those days. I was his best friend.
We were that close, like salt and pepper.
Like salt and pepper.
And it all begins here.
From the root to the fruit.
Maryum, tell me something.
When I started boxing,
how old was I?
I was 12 years old.
You were 12?!
I thought you was younger.
- Twelve.
- 'Cause somebody stole your bike.
Yeah, that's when I was 12.
It was on a Monday night
in Louisville, 1953.
We both went to a home show. Every
year they had, like, a big carnival.
We had rode our bicycle
we got for Christmas up there.
And when we came out
of the home show,
our bicycles had got stolen
so we cried.
We were little boys.
We started crying.
So we asked somebody coming
out of the building.
"Please tell us where we could find a
policeman to report our bikes stolen. "
And the gentleman said, "Go downstairs
and there's a policeman downstairs. "
So we went down a long flight of steps.
It was a boxing gym.
The policeman was in the
corridor talking to some kids.
He was all hostile
and wanted to whip somebody.
So I said, "You never fight
if you don't know how. "
I said, "Has anybody ever taught you
how to fight?" and he said, "No. "
I said, "You should come down
here and learn how to fight first
before you
starting picking fights. "
So that was the beginning of it.
He started coming to the gym and
he was a very religious trainer.
And so he was there when I got
there, and he was there when I left.
He was 12 years old and weighed 87 pounds.
That's how he got started.
Cassius Clay of Chicago
challenges Gary Joyce,
the Eastern Heavyweight champ.
And Joyce is in trouble
from the first round on.
When he discovered boxing,
he was smart.
He said, "If I can dive, move from
side to side in the boxing ring,
I know I'm not gonna get hit. "
So he said, "Rudy, let's go
to the back of the alley
and pick up rocks
and throw the rocks at me. "
"See if I can dodge the
rocks. " So he would...
I'd throw the rocks at him. The rocks
would not hit him and go by him.
He would dodge the rocks, improve
his reflexes as a boxer.
And sure enough, when he
got in the boxing ring,
he would dodge those punches.
He was a genius.
Back in the days when Muhammad
and I was young kids,
he would tell the children in
our neighborhood his destiny,
how great he would be.
Most of the kids would laugh
at Muhammad.
Say, "Cassius,
you can't do that. "
"That's too much for you to do.
You can't be that great. "
When you're a kid,
you always bet some fellas,
"I'm gonna be champion one day,
and when I'm champion, I'm gonna
come down and show you I'm wrong. "
And then I say, "Guys, I'm gonna
be a great doctor one day
and I'm gonna be a dentist. I'm
gonna be a great scientist. "
"I'm gonna be the President
of the country. "
And there are very few people actually
are able to make good of the boasts
and come home and say,
"I told you. "
- I got a call from the lobby.
- "I'm Cassius Marcellus Clay. "
"I'm the Golden Glove Champion
of Louisville. "
"I won the Golden Gloves in Seattle.
I'm going to win the Olympics. "
Now, this is '58. So I hold my
hand on the phone and I says,
"Willie, there's some sort of a nut
downstairs wants to talk to us. "
- It was a great meeting.
- Very interesting.
He was a student. Wanted to
know how much fighters train.
What they ate, how many miles they ran.
He wanted to know everything.
When he came back
from the Olympics,
the Louisville Sponsoring Group
sent him to Archie Moore.
Well, that didn't work because, see,
two star qualities don't blend.
In fact,
what broke the camel's back,
Archie Moore asked him
to sweep the kitchen.
He said, "I didn't sweep the
kitchen for my mother. "
"I ain't gonna
sweep no kitchen. "
So they called me up,
the Louisville Group,
and they came down
and they interviewed me.
Asked me how I
would handle the kid.
And I told 'em I would take my time.
I don't like to rush anything.
Well, they said, "Well, jeez,
he won an Olympic medal. "
I said,
"That don't mean nothing. "
Transition from an amateur
to a pro takes time.
He would come to the gym and if
he didn't get a ride to the gym,
he didn't have no car,
he would run.
He would run across the causeway. I
got a call from the police one day.
"There's a tall, skinny kid
running across the causeway
says he's your fighter. "
So I said, "Yes, he is.
Cassius Clay. "
In the past, everybody else
talked but the fighter.
Now people got to wanna know
the star.
And Life magazine, the biggest
magazine in the world.
They want my pretty face on it.
I was around with this kid
for four years.
They thought I was a mute
because I never put a word in.
"Talk to my guy,
please," you know.
When they do interviews with me,
they are not the interviews
that you do with boxers.
Boxers usually don't talk
and all they can tell you is,
"He ran five miles yesterday," or duh,
duh, duh, good left jab, duh, duh.
I'm not that type of Negro,
black man, you understand?
See, the questions they ask me
on interviews and in colleges
is the same thing,
or more complicated,
than you would ask the Queen
of England or President Nixon
or some senator politician.
He used to jump and bounce
and pull hands down, you know,
so I wasn't making no excuses for it.
I said, "It works. "
In fact, one time I was so influenced
by the media, the Doug Jones fight,
I told him in one part of that
fight, "Get your hands up. "
And he got the heck kicked out of him.
I said, "Put your hands down. "
This is the criteria, because
everybody kept their hands up.
No big man ever moved like
that and this was the key.
He was special. And you're as good
as your talent you work with.
And Muhammad made me shine.
This is BBC Television.
Well, no doubt
about the top feature
in tonight's specially lengthened
edition of Sportsview,
because everyone
is still talking
about the fight between Cassius
Clay and Henry Cooper.
I knew the English pub were
I knew for a fact they weren't
gonna like him the first time,
'cause he talked too much.
I knew they
wouldn't like Muhammad.
When we first went there, we didn't see
nobody. The people didn't like him.
And we're fighting the hero, Henry Cooper.
And he'd gone, "Five. Five. "
People didn't go for that, you know?
But he was just having fun.
And Cassius Clay,
the gimmick man to the last,
comes into the ring with this
monster crown on his head
and all the way
down to the ringside,
through the rows of people
with umbrellas,
People were throwing things and trying
to knock the crown off his head.
So here we go.
It's the fight of the year.
Clay from the right-hand corner
against Cooper of Britain.
And Clay has said, "I'll beat
him in five. " We'll see.
And Cooper's left eye is
a very sorry sight indeed.
- And he's teasing Cooper.
- Round four.
Henry Cooper, you know,
was well loved by everybody.
I can see why.
And, it was a great night.
After all,
he hit my guy on the chin.
Dropped him. He slid down the ropes.
It was dramatic.
And thank God
the ropes were there.
That was the end
of the fourth round.
And he hit him about two seconds
before the end of the round.
He came back to the corner
and I was chewing him up.
They're working furiously
on him in the corner.
Angelo Dundee, his trainer, he
really is giving him a talking-to.
Cooper's left
hook finally scores
and Clay was down two seconds
from the end of the fourth round.
And out they
come for round five.
And now he's stepping in, and I
think this is it for Cooper.
The towel has come in
from Cooper's corner.
There was no alternative.
He had to stop the fight.
Inside, Frank Butler asked Clay if he
still thought Henry Cooper was a bum.
He's not a bum. I must admit, I
really underestimated the fella.
My nose has never bled
until I fought him
and his left hook was as good or
better than the people had predicted.
And I must say he had me on the floor
at the end of the fourth round.
I've never...
I've been on the floor once,
but I wasn't really shook like I was.
And I have to say he's the...
He really should be the
number-two contender next to me.
After all,
I'm still the greatest.
But he should have been the number-two
contender. He's the best I've met yet.
Well, you're still
a wonderful prophet,
because you said you'd win in round
five and you won in round five.
But don't you think you were just a
little lucky to win in round five,
in view of the fourth round?
Well, I don't know
what you mean by luck.
I told you it would end in
five and that's what happened.
Yes, and you came in the ring
with a crown on your head.
- Is that because...
- Because I am the king.
I understand you have a Queen of
England, but you don't have a king.
The second time we went, though,
we couldn't walk the streets.
So there you go. I mean, then he
wasn't as glib or crazy or anything,
but the people fell in love with him
because they knew it, he was for real.
Maryum, what do people say? Do
they know you're my daughter?
Yes, everybody.
Tell me the truth.
Do they make any cracks?
"You think you're cool
'cause of your daddy. "
Yeah, like, if I do
something, they say,
"You think you're big just because
you're Muhammad Ali's daughter. "
They say that to you?
Who say it? Boys or girls?
- Mostly boys.
- Oh.
I mean, I knew he was famous
as soon as I can walk and talk
and understand words.
You know, I heard how
much people adored him
and, you know, a simple trip
to the convenience store
was 50 people surrounding our car.
He couldn't go anywhere.
And my father loved people,
so he would entertain them
and stay out there and talk to 'em and,
"He's gonna get knocked down in five. "
And I'm sitting here looking at
him and I'm looking at the people
and so I knew this is not normal.
You know what I'm saying?
So I knew really, really
young, um, how huge he was,
is when I would see people on television
that I admire, like Tom Jones,
or Philip Wilson or Sly Stone,
Sammy Davis, Jr.,
and then they would be at my house.
I'm like, "Whoa. "
You know, "You're famous," you
know, so I knew he was up there.
My dad played kind of the good cop
out of the parents, you know.
You know, it was so funny.
He would, like, if I acted up, he'll go,
"Belinda, go, she needs a spanking. "
And then, you know, my mother
give me a little spanking.
And he'll go in your room,
"Are you OK?"
"You want me to get you
some ice cream?"
You know. He always had
to be the nice guy,
but he was just a practical joker.
Loved to joke.
He just always played around,
very loving, very affectionate.
Always kissing your cheeks.
He'd wake you up in the
morning kissing your cheeks.
"Gimme jaws, gimme the nose," you know.
So he was very loving
and you would think a boxer
wouldn't be a teddy bear like that.
I just had fun with my dad. I
always wanted to be with him.
I was like a daddy's girl.
Daddy's gotta leave. He's going
into training, do you hear?
- Daddy's going to fight.
- I want to go with you.
You wanna go with me? You can't.
Can you fight?
Do you fight? No, you don't fight.
You can't go.
- Here you go.
- Yes, I go!
No, Daddy going to get in shape
and you stay at home. You hear?
I wanna...
I wanna go with you.
You wanna go fight with me?
- Come on, sweetheart.
- The man gonna fight!
- Who gonna fight?
- The man.
The man? Your dad.
Would you please
cook me some dinner?
I go to work all day,
I've been out all day
and when all you have to do is to lay
around in this big house and live easy
and at least you can
have my meal on time.
- Woman, please, is the food ready?
- Yes.
All right. Come on.
Let's go eat, May May.
There's one thing you don't mess
with is colored folks' food
and colored folks' money.
Come on. Come on, darlin'.
He loved his children.
He loved his children,
but he was a blessed man
to have Belinda's mom and dad
take care of the kids
when there was such a demand put
on him as being a world man.
He asked to travel here or travel there
so his title, his heavyweight belt...
What was more valuable
than that heavyweight belt
was having his mother-in-law raising
the children, which she did.
And she did a good job.
He used to love
to tape record conversations
and he would always say,
"I'm gonna tape you guys,
and when you're older you're
gonna love this, these tapes. "
And, um, he would always do it
so when my parents got divorced,
he would call me. "How you doing?
What are you doing?"
"What do you wanna be
when you grow up?"
He would always tell me time is gonna
fly, you know, I'm gonna be older.
I mean, he was just, like...
he could foresee things
and knew how important
those things would be.
- Maryum?
- Sir?
You're now 11 years old. Now,
do you wanna go to college?
Yes, sir. Now, what do
you wanna do there?
Everything Allah made has a purpose.
Trees have a purpose.
- What's the purpose of a cow?
- To give us milk.
OK. What's
the purpose of the sun?
- The sun?
- Sun.
- To give us light and heat.
- And make things grow.
So everything God made, the cows,
horses, the moon, stars, ants,
everything has a purpose.
Now, what's your purpose?
You're a human being.
If God made the sun have a purpose,
humans have a purpose too.
Hey, you haven't found your
life purpose yet, have you?
If everybody's born for a purpose,
what do you think you were born for?
- To make people feel better.
- To fix people up.
That's good.
That's good, Maryum.
This bout, 15 rounds for the
heavyweight championship of the world.
The challenger from Louisville,
Kentucky, Cassius Clay.
And his opponent
from Denver, Colorado,
the heavyweight champion of the
world, Charles Sonny Liston.
Ali, by then, had had
19 professional fights.
It wasn't as though he'd
suddenly come upon the scene.
He'd been properly,
properly managed
in the sense that, Dundee
was an expert match maker.
I mean, match making is one of
the great skills in boxing.
Finding the right
guy at the right time.
- Sonny Liston was a gangster.
- I mean, he was a mob guy.
He had fast hands and he could punch.
You wouldn't take him lightly.
Nobody gave, Ali, or Clay
as he then was, a chance.
Liston will kill him.
Kill him in the first round.
It'll be Liston in three rounds.
- Liston.
- One, Liston.
- Second round, Liston.
- Liston in four.
- Well, I am for Liston.
- Who did this guy ever fight?
- Who?
- Yeah.
- Clay?
- Yeah.
I mean, what Ali set out to
do was to get into his head.
And, you know,
it had occurred to Ali,
I think, that,
Liston thought he was crazy.
That Ali was crazy.
- You ain't got a chance!
- Let us see, let us see.
Liston, he can't deal with this.
A fella coming at him with a
sledgehammer, he could deal with it,
but, well, "This fella's
crazy," you know.
And that's how he
went into the ring.
Hey, get back!
I predict that tonight somebody will
die at the ringside from shock.
The world heavyweight boxing
title on the line.
Looking to get Sonny to lunge.
Liston thought he was
gonna win the fight
and his people thought
he was gonna win the fight,
um, that wasn't what Ali saw.
Less than one minute more
in this second round.
Another downright hammer shot.
There goes another one!
Sonny wobbles. Got a wobble.
The fight never went
Liston's way.
At the end of the sixth round,
Liston sat on the stool and said,
"That's it, I've finished. "
They might be stopping it.
That might be over,
ladies and gentlemen.
Get up there, Joe, get up there.
Get up in the ring.
Get near the microphone.
All you reporters... all you
reporters made it hard on Liston.
Never write about me like that.
Never make me six to one.
You just make me angry. Never,
never make me no underdog,
and never talk
about who's gonna stop me.
Ain't nobody gonna stop me.
No heavyweight in the world's
fast enough to stop me.
- Who's the greatest?
- Who you gonna fight next?
Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.
Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.
Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.
Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.
Say, "Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee. "
- Sting like a fly like a bee.
- Who's your daddy?
Say it. Say it for Daddy.
Float like a bee,
sting like a bee.
- What's your daddy's name?
- Muhammad Ali!
Why do you insist on being
called Muhammad Ali now?
That's the name given to me
by my leading teacher,
the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
That's my original name.
That's a black man name. Cassius
Clay was my slave name.
- I'm no longer a slave.
- What does it mean?
Muhammad means "worthy of all
praises," and Ali means "most high. "
Do you intend to
fight under that name?
Yes, sir. I wanna be called by that name.
I write autographs with that name.
I wanna be known all over
the world as that name.
What attracted you then to
Islam in the first instance?
The Muslim religion is the true
teachings of Elijah Muhammad
right there in America.
No power structure.
Nobody will challenge him.
And the history of ourselves, the
history of our true religion,
our nationality, our names.
See, we don't have our names,
you know.
I notice how proud you all
are, proud of your names.
See, Chinese have names
like Chan, Chong, Lu, Chin.
This is Islamic teachings.
The Russians have names
like Kosygin or Khrushchev.
You have names like O'Connell
or Grady or Kennedy.
And, Africans have names
like Kalumumba, Nkrumah.
And Jews got names
like Weinstein and Goldberg.
And Italians got names like Dundee
and Benvenuti and Marciano.
But we have names like Grady
and Clay and Hawkins and Smith
and Jones and Johnson,
but we are black.
- These are the slave names?
- Yeah.
So when I heard this I knew the truth.
It's history.
So Muhammad Ali is a beautiful black name.
The name of our ancestors.
So when I heard this, I just had to
walk out of the church and Christianity
'cause they never taught us
our true knowledge.
You were born
in nineteen-sixty-what?
- Eight.
- 1968.
Daddy won the title of 1964.
That's four years.
Four years after I won
my title, you were born.
I was in exile at
that time, you know.
They took my title because
I didn't go to Vietnam.
- Do you remember that?
- Yes, sir.
You were too small to
remember, but it's history.
- But I know about it.
- You know about it.
When I was growing up,
he was growing up.
He was younger than me, but he was
a big figure in the Olympics.
He had a tremendous personality.
And he had an attitude
about being black.
And, that was my game.
That's what I was.
The black man has
been brainwashed
and it's time for him to learn
something about hisself.
When you look at television,
you see White Owl Cigars.
White Swan soap. SkinWhite soap.
White Rain hair rinse.
White Tornado floor wax. White
floss toothpaste. You go, he...
They taught him when he was a little
boy that Mary had a little lamb,
his fleece was white as snow.
Then they taught
him about Snow White.
Then there's the White House.
When you look at television, you see
these two cars, one black and one white,
and they put a gallon of gas
in each one...
To see which car
can go the farthest.
And every time the black car stopped
first and the white car just kept going.
So this brainwashes the negro.
I always followed him,
got a chance to know him,
got a chance to work with him.
He was just a part of my life
and, he goes back
as far as my memory goes.
Clay's first taste of military life,
and quite possibly his only one,
was at the induction,
or call-up centre,
at the Old Post Office
building in Houston.
Just before lunch.
It's all over.
But Clay is not telling what
happened in the private ceremony
where one pace forward would have
meant acceptance of the call-up.
Why should me and other so-called
negroes go 10,000 miles,
away from home here in America
to drop bombs and bullets
on other innocent, brown people
who's never bothered us?
And, I will say directly,
"No, I will not go 10,000 miles
to, help kill innocent people. "
Muhammad Ali refused the
draft to go into Vietnam.
He believed it was
an unjust and unholy war.
He said if the Vietnamese came
over and attacked this country,
he would be
the first one to defend it.
John Wooten, the Executive Director
of the Black Economic Union,
I called him because I wanted him
to get the top black athletes
to have a meeting with Muhammad
Ali to give him an opportunity
to tell his side of the story,
because there were so many
rumors about, his life
and not going into service
and his religion.
And we felt that if we got the truth
from him and we believed him,
that we would be a body
that would support him.
And I felt he needed a lot
of support at the time
because he was challenging
the United States Government.
Nine top negro athletes meet
with Cassius Clay
to discuss his
anti-draft stand.
They include Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor,
and former pro footballer Jimmy Brown.
Everybody had a chance to
talk to him, to question him,
to give their opinions,
to give their thoughts.
And it was a fantastic meeting
because at no time did Ali indicate
that he would go into service
under any circumstances.
Says Brown, the champ is sincere
in his religious beliefs.
He believes in his religion and his
stand is based wholly on that.
Clay's induction refusal
cost him his title
and he faces a possible
five-year prison sentence.
He claims exemption as a minister
of the Black Muslim faith.
Each and every individual
there, admired tremendously
because Muhammad Ali had
become a Muslim.
At the time
called a Black Muslim,
and that was a highly
controversial organization.
And anyone that was associated
with them
was going to really feel
the wrath of the system.
The so-called Black Muslims
in America at the time,
Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad.
It was very, very controversial.
Malcolm X was, um, a charismatic man.
A feared man, by many.
The power structure
had successfully created,
the image of the American negro as
someone with no confidence, no militancy
and, they had done this
by giving him images of heroes
that weren't truly militant
or confident.
And now here come Cassius, the
exact contrast of everything
that, was representative
of the negro image.
He said he was the greatest. All
of the odds were against him.
He upset the oddsmakers. He won.
He became victorious.
He became the champ.
They knew that as soon as,
if people began to identify with Cassius
and the type of image he was creating,
they were going to have
trouble out of these negroes
because they'd have negroes
walking around the streets
saying, "I'm the greatest. "
I could name you 20 activists
that had a part in the change
in this country.
You were living in a state
of discrimination and racism.
And so there were the outstanding
individuals who would risk everything.
The Panthers took up arms. I mean,
it was a time of people standing up
and other people cowering down.
So there were
a lot of individuals
that were risking not only
their careers, but their life.
That was a time of...
of social revolution.
We are not seeking to lose
our identity in blood mixing
and our beautiful
Black African history.
We don't hate you. We don't hate
those of you who are white.
We just wanna stay black. We love my color.
I just love myself.
I think that, on a personal
level, I've been around him
and there's a couple of things about
him that I think are really beautiful.
First of all, he loves people.
I thought that was a great trait
and he had a way of relating to
people and making them feel good.
And he used to say to me,
"Come on, Jim, let's walk in the
neighborhood and talk to the people. "
"Yeah, that's all right,
I'll go with you. "
Meet the people, go into the barber shops.
Go into the, hair salons.
And, he didn't
dislike white people.
He just didn't like what a lot
of white people stood for,
but when we went to England,
he enjoyed the English.
He would even party in my suite
with the English people,
particularly young ladies.
But... So his heart,
and his compassion for people,
was bigger than just black people and
I think that's important to know.
And then he had
a lot of courage.
The risk he had to take and then to be
isolated, to have his crown taken away.
Not be able to make a living.
That was difficult.
And to keep an attitude about himself,
to keep that personality moving
even though inside
he had to be suffering a lot.
Clay now faces a nomadic
existence of uncertain duration
divided between courthouses and
meeting houses all over America.
His occupation's gone. He seems
unlikely to box again for a long time.
Patriots deride him.
The Peace Party applaud him.
His Black Muslim friends
keep him from faltering.
It's doubtful whether he has
the intellectual equipment
to evaluate these pressures,
but under them all he keeps
a dignity and repose
which make it difficult to maintain
that he's either cowardly or dishonest.
I hooked him up
with a fella in New York City,
and he had him doing
the college lecturing
and he went out on
the college campuses
and he did the lecturing and
all the colleges loved him.
He was accepted Harvard, Yale,
Princeton, Columbia, Penn.
All of the schools, the bigger
schools, and he was like their hero.
I'm very
flattered in coming here,
because you never could have made me
believe years ago when I was a...
When I got out of high school
with a D minus average.
And they gave me the "minus"
because I won the Olympics.
I understand that,
out of people such as y'all
come presidents and
governors and mayors
and great doctors and physicians
and scientists and everything.
So I said, "Well, to get something
together, to talk to these people,
it's gotta be pretty heavy. "
So I didn't bring
no notes with me.
You are happy to
have thrown away
perhaps the greatest sports career
since the war for the ideals.
I haven't thrown it away.
I haven't lost it.
I would say I turned it down.
I'm not...
See, the greatest sports title
mean nothing, mister,
if you cannot be free, see?
Boys in Vietnam are throwing
away, you may say, their lives.
I haven't did that much.
I'm still living.
They are dying today to free
somebody they don't know,
so what in the hell is a heavyweight
title and a few stinking dollar bills
for my people's freedom?
I'm an advertising guy, and the,
editor of Esquire, Harold Hayes,
came to me and, was reading about
me being a hotshot art director.
I had seen, footage
of Muhammad fighting.
I said, "Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa. This kid is something. "
Yeah! Where's he at?
I'm the king of the ring! I'm
the biggest thing in history!
A young black kid with a
big mouth, talking sense.
it was wonderful back then.
I mean, they were still hanging
guys down in the South.
Ali refused to be drafted
during the Vietnam War,
and because of that
he lost the very best boxing
years he had during that time
because boxers
don't last forever.
And so Lois,
who was the cover art director
of Esquire magazine at the time, said,
"Why don't we do him as a martyr?"
I said to Harold Hayes,
the editor, I said,
"I think Muhammad Ali's a great man.
How about you?"
He said, "Yeah, I think so. " So
he said, "What do you wanna do?"
"I'm gonna have him posing
as Saint Sebastian. "
"A martyr to his country,
a martyr to his religion,
as a martyr to what he thinks
about life. "
"Wow. " I call up Muhammad
and so he comes to New York
and, I show him a postcard
of a Saint Sebastian painting
where the body was in repose,
but his head was in torment.
And I said, "Muhammad, I want you to
pose like this. I want you to... "
And he looks at it and he says, "Hey,
George, this cat's a Christian. "
I said, "Holy Moses,
you're right, Muhammad. "
"Yeah, yeah, Saint Sebastian. "
And I realized very quickly
he was saying a Muslim
can't pose as a Christian.
Whoa. Gotta do this cover.
What, what...
"I can't do it. "
"What can we do?"
"Can we call Elijah Muhammad?"
"I guess so. "
Have a little bit of a
conversation, puts me on the phone
and I had, like, a 15-minute talk
about religion and symbolism
and image making, etc, etc,
with Elijah Muhammad.
It was a funny conversation.
I wish I had a tape of it.
And, finally, Elijah Muhammad
said to me, "Young man,"
and I was a young man then, "I think
it would make a terrific image. "
It took a long time because
the arrows kept falling down
and Ali had to stand still,
which is not his style.
But he was very cooperative,
very helpful.
We made funny stories
and kept him amused.
He's posing, hands behind his back,
head in pain, head in anguish.
Beautiful image.
And we're starting to shoot, trying to
photograph, and he said, "Hey, George. "
I said, "What, Muhammad?"
"Hey, George. "
I said, "Muhammad, what?
Pose. Do your job. Come on. "
"Hey, George. " When he does three
"Hey, George"s, you've gotta...
He wants to say something.
And slowly but surely, he pointed
to each of the arrows and he said,
"Lyndon Johnson, General
Westmoreland, Robert McNamara,
Dean Rusk, Carl Clifford,
Hubert Humphrey. "
He pointed to six tormentors
that had fired the arrows
that were out to get him.
I was stunned how bright
it was, how smart.
How almost poignant.
When the cover came out, it absolutely
blew the minds of millions of people.
I mean, I've had hundreds
of people come up to me
and talk to me about what
that cover did to them.
If you didn't wanna fight in the war, you
were a coward or you were a traitor.
And... or you were a nerd
or you were fearful, etc.
And along... and along comes
the most manly person,
forget about fighter,
that ever lived
and he became an incredible symbol
specifically to young people, you know.
So I'm proud of it for,
not only for helping Muhammad,
but helping to
fight against the war.
Finally he got the license back.
He said, "Well, maybe we should
get our own training camp. "
So that's what we did. I mean,
here's a guy as big as he was.
He didn't have to pay someone
to have to rent their gym.
He had his own place and he designed all
of it. He called it Fighter's Heaven.
These are the little ponies
we bought just for children.
In summertime
when the children come up,
we saddle up ponies and let
'em ride around on 'em.
- Heckle and Jekyll.
- Heckle and Jekyll?!
Yeah. Heckle and Jekyll,
Mutt and Jeff.
Heckle and Jekyll,
and Mutt and Jeff.
My wife. My wife names
all these horses.
These cabins and things you see, we
built all this from the ground up.
And I always, as a kid, wanted
to train in a real training camp
with the logs and the rocks
and the trees and the woods.
We had hotel bills, so I built my own
cabins for the fighters to stay in.
Then we had eating bills, so I
built my own kitchen around heres.
His mom and dad would come up
and cook, and his Aunt Coretta.
That was his domain. He loved it.
He loved every part of it.
His brother Rahaman was there. It
was something that he created.
- This is my brother here, Rahaman Ali.
- Hi.
He just... he just got up.
He likes to sleep and eat.
He just got up.
He's come to get a comb.
He works hard, so it's why
he's gotta sleep and eat.
He works so hard.
I put 'em all to work.
The comb should be
in the restroom there.
Always open to the public. All
the people would come by there,
and it was really like the
boxing shrine of the world.
He enjoyed it and there was a lot of
great champions came up there to train.
A lot of celebrities came by
to visit there.
I went up to his training camp
and I got in the ring with him.
You know, just for...
Just for fun.
So, um, I said, you know,
"Take it easy, you know,
because how are we gonna get around,
you know, how are we gonna do this?"
"Don't worry about it. " He said, "Just
don't worry about it. Just get in. "
So then he
started to, you know...
And then tried to wind me up
a little bit, you know,
and he said, "Trigger. You called me
Trigger, right? It was Trigger, right?"
I said, "I didn't call you
anything. " "Yes, you did," you know.
So we just...
So then we started.
So he said, you know,
"Throw something at me. "
So I threw a, um, a left jab
and a right cross.
You know, not hard, because I
didn't want him to hit me.
So it was like, you know, bang,
bang and they both connected
and he threw out a left, you
know, just automatically
that, you know, just caught me.
The end of it just caught me.
And I thought,
"Oh, you know, my teeth,"
because I wasn't wearing
any, um, mouthpieces.
You know, it was just a
friendly little thing there.
But just to stand in the ring with
this man and just, you know...
He would telegraph everything
he was throwing at me.
You know, it was only,
thank God, a bit of fun.
And just to block his arms
coming at you, you know,
even though you knew each one he
was just, you know, doing that...
I thought, "Good God. "
I mean, to get in there to fight this
man for real must be terrifying.
So then Ali says
to me, you know,
"Just, just throw one,
you know, for the... "
So I said, "Oh, OK," you know. So
I went like this and he dropped.
And he's on the, you know,
in the ring on the floor
and, you know, and I'm standing
over him like, like this.
'Cause, you know,
it's just for publicity.
And, apparently,
Gene Kilroy was telling me
that, um, when the photos went
all over the world,
some of Ali's fans were concerned and
said that, um, Ali should stop now.
If Tom Jones can knock him
down, you know what I mean,
then he should stop boxing.
We were in Deer Lake,
Pennsylvania, one time
and there was a little boy
there who looked frail
and he wanted to
meet Muhammad Ali.
I said, "No problem," and I
brought the boy in and his dad.
Muhammad looked at the boy
and he said,
"Why do you have this hot wool hat on?"
He said, "It's so hot out there today. "
He said, "I got leukemia and I lost
all my hair. I'm getting this chemo. "
And Ali said,
"I'll tell you what. "
"I'm gonna beat George Foreman
and you're gonna beat leukemia. "
The boy looked at him.
He said, "Oh, I hope you're
right, Ali, I hope you're right. "
I went and I got my camera and I took
a picture of the little boy and Ali.
And I got the father's address.
I had Ali write on the picture,
"I am gonna beat George Foreman
and you're gonna beat cancer. "
"God bless you, Muhammad Ali. "
So about two weeks later I get a call.
It said, the boy's father, he said,
"Jimmy's very sick. He's in the
University of Pennsylvania Hospital. "
"He's not gonna make it, but the thrill
of his life was meeting Muhammad Ali. "
I said, "Jeez, I'm sorry to hear it.
Is there anything we can do?" "No. "
So that next morning
we're doing roadwork,
4:30 in the morning before the
sun is up, when he can run,
and I tell him about the boy.
He said, "OK,
here's what we're gonna do. "
"When I get done,
my exercise and all,
we take a shower,
we head down to the hospital. "
So we go down to the University
of Pennsylvania Hospital,
a two-hour ride,
and we went in.
Here's the little boy
with a white sheet.
White kid,
no hair, big blue eyes.
And he said, "Muhammad,
I knew you would come. "
And Muhammad reached
and he held the little boy.
He said, "Remember, I told you
that you are gonna beat cancer
and I'm gonna beat George Foreman
and that's the way it's gonna be. "
And the little boy said,
"No, Muhammad,
I'm gonna meet God and I'm gonna
tell Him that I know you. "
There wasn't a word said in
the two-hour ride going back.
About a week later,
the little boy died.
The father called me and Ali said he
didn't want to go to the funeral.
It was too sad.
So I went over to the funeral
and in the casket, they had the boy laid
out and they had the picture there.
"I'm gonna beat George Foreman,
you're gonna beat cancer. "
The boy was gonna go to Heaven and say
he was a friend of Muhammad Ali's
to get a better
seat or a better place.
That's... that's a great
compliment, isn't it?
- Muhammad?
- What?
I bet you don't know your ABCs.
I do!
- No, you don't.
- Yes, I do!
Let me hear you.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Oh, wa, go, go, L, M, N, O, P
Q, R, S, T, U, V
W, X, Y and Z
Now I know my ABCs
Won't you come and play with me?
Hey, hey. Ooh, I
love you, Muhammad.
I just love you so much. I think
about you every day. I miss you.
It doesn't come to me
as him being famous.
He's being Dad.
It really didn't faze me any
because I feel like everybody
else, like Dad is Dad.
I grew up with Rasheda,
Jamillah and Maryum.
We was a close-knit family and we
knew about our other siblings.
We would go, like, say we had summer
or winter break out of school,
we would go to California where
he stayed at the Fremont Place
and we would meet up with
all of our other siblings.
We had fun.
We'd swim in pool, bike ride.
He used to always do
magic tricks and stuff.
I had a bit of a problem in school
because a lot of kids wanted to see
if I could fight like my father,
and I really didn't wanna do so.
So they would pick on me a lot.
I never really wanted to be in the
limelight. It's really no life for me.
I just wanted to
be a normal child.
He actually said to me, "I
don't want you to be like me. "
"I want you to be
better than me. "
So how can you be better
than the greatest?
The man's in trouble.
Listen, George Foreman. People
are afraid of George Foreman.
They talk about how hard he hits.
The world has been deceived.
You listen to me now. I've never told
you wrong. The man don't hit hard.
This will be the biggest upset
since Sonny Liston
and I think it is befitting that I go
out of boxing just like I came in,
defeating a big, bad monster
that nobody could destroy.
A hard punch.
I'm the underdog.
If he hits me, I'm in trouble,
like the Sonny Liston fight,
but I came back and I shook
the world and I got Liston.
Now it's ten years
since Sonny Liston.
I'm meeting another big, bad,
strong monster, knock-out artist.
He's a bully. He's slow.
He has no skill, no footwork.
He's awkward
and I have given him a name.
I named Floyd Patterson The Rabbit.
I named Sonny Liston The Bear.
And he shall be known
officially as The Mummy.
- The Mummy. Why?
- Why The Mummy?
Because he fights, when he's fighting,
if you ever watch him in the ring,
he, he, he, he drags like
that after his opponent.
And how's The Mummy gonna
catch me?
When you're fighting The Mummy, you
just keep a step ahead of The Mummy.
- Yeah, yeah.
- See?
Yeah, just move on, The Mummy.
"No, Mummy, I'm over here.
No, Mummy, I'm over here. "
Yeah, no, you're moving too fast.
The Mummy don't move that fast.
I remember the day we left
Deer Lake.
We were going to Zaire, Africa.
Before we left the camp, and Ali
ran in and he called Cus D'Amato.
He said, "Cus,
how do I fight this guy?"
Cus said, "He is a
bully-type individual.
"Your first punch
must be with...
with bad intentions,
devastating tenacity. "
I got on and I said, "Cus, look what
George Foreman did to Kenny Norton. "
"Look what he did
to Joe Frazier. "
And Cus yelled.
He was in New York.
I could have heard him from New
York to Deer Lake, Pennsylvania
without the phone.
He said,
"But they're not Ali!"
We flew Air Zaire. All black
people, all black pilots.
And on the way over Ali was saying to
them he wanted to meet the pilots.
"How old are you? 23? 27?"
Ali said, "See, if black people
get the chance to do it,
they could do something
in life. " He believed it.
And all of a sudden we hit some
turbulence and Ali got a little scared.
He said, "I hope those young pilots
are as smart as the old pilots. "
He talked about fighting George Foreman.
"Cus is right, he's a bully. "
"I know just what to do.
I know how to fight him. "
As we were walking off the
airplane, Ali turned to me.
He said,
"Who don't they like here?"
I said, "I guess they don't
like the white people. "
"No, no, I can't say George
Foreman's white. Who else?"
I say, "The Belgians," and Ali yelled,
"George Foreman's a Belgian!"
And everybody started yelling,
"Ali, boma y. Ali, boma y!"
And I turned to our interpreter.
I said, "What did they say?"
He said, "They say, 'Kill him.
Kill him. '"
Muhammad Ali!
Muhammad Ali!
When George Foreman arrived
with his entourage,
his sparring partners, here he
has one of his loyal companions,
a German Shepherd dog
by the name of Diego.
The Belgians used to put the German
Shepherds on the black people.
I knew we were home free.
It was a blessing that
we fought in Zaire,
because no-one
could bother us.
We had time for each other. You
know, we had our own cook there.
We had our own movies.
We had it nice.
Ali loved it when his mom and
dad was there, and his brother.
He wanted to make
'em proud of him.
Show 'em what it was to really
achieve something in life.
Getting back on George
Foreman, why he's not here?
- Never mind about getting back on.
- What you mean, never mind?
Why, he's always ducking.
That makes me mad.
Sonny Liston killed the game and Floyd
Patterson fighting once a year,
and now this man who was at a
press conference the other day.
He wouldn't talk.
He sends this bald-headed man over,
Dick Sadler, to talk for him.
And then, then, then he
didn't show up the other day.
Get off my head.
Listen. I'm gonna float like a
butterfly and sting like a bee.
George can't hit
what his eyes can't see.
Now you see me, now you don't.
You think you will,
but I know you won't.
Thank you, Ali.
Thank you, Angelo Dundee.
Is that all the time I get?
Thank you, Ben Degabula
and Dick Sadler.
Don't do that, champ.
Get away, get away.
right-hand man came in.
Said George Foreman cut his eye,
the fight may be called off.
I say, "Ali, if he leaves this
country, he will never fight you
because you're not showing any fear,
you're not showing any respect. "
So I told him, "Take the
passports so they can't leave. "
If he would have left, there would
have never been an Ali-Foreman fight.
The other day, messing around
the gymnasium, he got cut.
He's doing everything
to get out of this fight.
Then he almost had a car accident.
I don't know what's gonna happen.
I just wanna see him that day
in the arena,
because that's one place
he won't be able to duck.
The vibrations are against him.
The planets are against him.
And already, he's lost
the first five rounds.
I'm gonna prove to the world
that I'm still the fastest,
the prettiest,
the most classiest,
the most scientific, the
greatest fighter of all time.
The African people loved
Muhammad Ali.
They thought he was a savior.
Muhammad could have said to the
people when we went to the stadium,
"I wanna be your president. "
Everybody would have followed him.
They loved him so much.
It was unbelievable,
the power that this man had.
There's a theory in life. It's said
that the strong will beat the weak.
But the brains will beat
the strong every time.
He said, "He's strong,
but he has no stamina. "
"He doesn't know what it's like.
Round five. Round six. "
"Round seven. Round eight.
I've got him. "
And that famous spin when he
was spinning, I told him,
I said, "Why didn't you
hit him on the way down?"
He said, "He had enough. "
If he would have spent
as much time in the art,
painting and,
you know, or an artist,
taking after his dad who was
in his genes,
he might have
been a great artist.
If he'd spent as
much time on the books,
he might have been a great lawyer
'cause he relates to people.
Could you imagine him with a
Harvard degree out of law school,
going before a jury? Wow.
Case dismissed.
Oh, my God,
he's won the title back at 32!
The fight with Muhammad Ali
was spectacular for me.
It changed my life because I'd
never lost as a professional,
and I'd intended to win the
easiest fight of my career.
I'd get into the ring with the guy.
I bluffed him, I'd done everything.
Beat him up, hey, basically
for about five or six rounds.
I thought it was easy.
Then about the sixth round
he whispered in my ear,
after I'd hit him in the side,
"That all you got, George?"
And that was about all I had.
It turned into a nightmare then.
Everybody expected me
to win that boxing match.
All the oddsmakers had me
ahead to win by a knockout,
as a matter of fact.
And once I lost that fight,
I was devastated.
I didn't understand losing.
He knew something about that,
so he prepared himself.
He reserved his
power and his strength.
I had nothing in the back of my
mind to shield me or protect me.
So I lie in devastation.
George Foreman, the man who
was totally invincible.
After I retired from boxing,
well, left boxing in the '70s,
I became a minister at the
Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I'm still doing so.
And I realized that...
A reporter asked me,
"What happened in Africa, George?
Surely something happened?"
And I admitted that I'd lost the
boxing match. I said, "I got proof. "
From that point on
I was able to cope,
because I realized not only
did I lose the boxing match,
but I lost to the greatest man
I've ever met.
Somebody who
would never give up.
George Foreman,
how are you doing?
Your name, as young as you
are, in my training camp,
me working with you, get your weight
down and you're not fighting for money.
God knows this in your heart.
You ain't gotta answer the man.
See, man judges man's actions.
God judges man's heart.
You go in the ring for God, now
you got the whole world shook up.
"George Foreman came back!" Now you
go out and you start preaching.
You got thousands of people
coming to you.
Don't go out a loser.
You go out a winner.
And this is
the wild idea I have.
Sometimes people come to me
and say, "What do you think?"
"Was Muhammad Ali
the greatest boxer?"
And I feel almost insulted, because
boxing was just something he did.
I mean, that's no way
to define Muhammad Ali.
He was one of the greatest men to ever
appear on the scene of the Earth.
- Let me ask Laila something.
- Wait. Y'all be quiet.
Now, this is a microphone.
And when you get
to be a big girl,
I'm gonna play this back
so you can hear it.
Say what I say.
Say, "I love my daddy. "
I love my daddy.
I love my poo-poo head daddy.
Hana, OK. Wait, wait, wait. I'm
just gonna ask you a question.
- What's your mother's name, Hana?
- Veronica.
And, Laila,
what's your mother's name?
- Wonica.
- What's her name?
- Wonica.
- Verwonica?
I first met Muhammad
when I was 18 years old
and I was off from college
for the summer.
I didn't like him.
The only thing I really knew about
him was that he was a big mouth.
Um, the boys in high school
in chemistry class
were talking about the
Frazier fight and just...
I heard them talking about the
personality, so I made up my mind.
"Oh, I don't like this Muhammad Ali.
He's, like, a bragger and a big mouth. "
Then we met again
in Africa, in Zaire.
I was helping promote the George
Foreman-Muhammad Ali fight at the time.
One of his entourage asked if
we wanted to go and meet him
and visit his training camp,
so I went with a few other people and he
didn't really pay any attention to me.
However, when it was time to go back,
we took a bus back, which was fun,
um, but Muhammad decided he was going
to ride on the bus back with us
and he ended up sitting with me
and talking to me the whole time.
My first thought was, "Wow, he's
really nice. He's very quiet. "
He later told me it was because
he was afraid to say anything.
He didn't know what to say. But, um,
I thought, "Oh, he's really nice. "
When the fight was postponed
and he kept inviting me back
and, um, he told me
he was getting divorced.
He wasn't living with a wife
so I didn't know any better,
um, at the time,
in the very beginning.
But, um, he would give these
lectures on love and friendship
and I remember the moment
I fell in love with him
when he was...
gonna make me cry.
It was just very touching.
We actually got married, um,
when I was 21.
And, we had been together already
since I was 18 years old,
even though we did have
a wedding ceremony in Zaire,
which lots of
people don't realize.
Living with
Muhammad was never dull.
You never knew what you'd be
coming home to any given day.
I heard you breathing
and started to talk.
I could hear your big breath
breathing and so could that lady.
And don't you be playing that
in front of everybody.
I don't want everyone listening
to me talking on the phone.
- It could be history.
- No!
I'd rather have something else.
He took control of his destiny by
making himself accountable, um,
with things like his predictions where
he would, you know, say what round.
Then he'd sort of pretty
much live into his future
and be more,
um, pressured, actually
or accountable to do
what he had said he would do.
And, so he pretty much, I think,
mastered life in that way.
But now Hana's a little girl.
Now Hana's a little girl.
- She's three years old.
- She's three years old.
And one day
she'll be a big lady.
And one day she'll be a big lady
and grow up a pretty lady and she
never be a little lady no more.
Right. And be a pretty
lady like Momma.
And pretty, and be a
pretty lady like Veronica.
Come here, Hana.
Come here. Come on.
Each night before you
go to bed, my baby
Each night my...
go to bed, my baby
While I'm far away from you,
my baby
Those were, like, the idyllic,
um, fairy-tale days, I think.
We were always there,
whereas the other kids were, um,
in school and that type of thing
and he, um, he spent the most
time with both my daughters,
um, from the moment
they were born on.
We were always there.
We went everywhere with him.
He's a really good-hearted person.
Very sensitive.
And I guess I'm crying because
of his situation now, you know,
and I'll always love him.
It's... I mean, not, like, "in love,"
but, I mean, we've always been friends.
Um, it became hard to live with
him because of, you know...
Everyone knows, the whole world knows,
he wasn't faithful as a husband.
there's a story to that, too,
I think.
But, um, he's
an incredible human being.
He has a beautiful heart
and very sensitive.
I mean, he cries a lot.
People don't know that.
You know, when something touches him
he'll start crying, more than I do.
There are lots of people,
actors in movies,
playing great parts
and that are idolized,
but it's all a fantasy
and Muhammad was real.
He stood up for what he believed and
he was 100% sincere about all of that.
Um, and I think people
just feel the love,
that genuine love
that comes from him.
It emanates from him
and people can feel that.
At that time in the '70s you very rarely
see the big stars come to Newcastle.
Incredibly, Muhammad Ali turned up.
Not only did he come,
he had just been married a couple
of months before to Veronica Porche
and they had their wedding
blessed in a local mosque.
It's a far cry from
fashionable Beverly Hills.
The mosque comes as a surprise in the
industrial heart of South Shields.
The children of the traditional Muslim
community here were out in force
to greet the champion
and his bride, Veronica.
There were so many things
to say.
I wanted to tell him I was his
greatest fan of all times.
I wanted so many things in me heart
and in me head I wanted to tell him.
He's my hero
and I've got a poem for him.
My poem goes, "Muhammad, I
welcome you here to my town. "
"You come here with no furious frown,
plus your heavyweight boxing crown. "
"Oh, Great One, oh, Great One,
enjoy your stay. "
So afterwards I
used to write to him.
Writing to him in America,
writing to his training camp,
and saying the things that I wanted to
say to him when he was in Newcastle.
And this went on for years.
"Russell, Russell, Russell! It's
Muhammad Ali on the phone!"
I thought she was just winding us up
because we were just watching him.
We're still watching him
on the television.
And I thought... I just ignore her.
I was still watching.
She says, "Hurry up! He'll put
the phone down. Hurry up. "
So, you know, obviously there
was something behind it.
I run into the kitchen. "Muhammad,
is that you, Muhammad?"
Russ, it's me, Muhammad Ali. "
And it was... it was like... you
couldn't believe it was happening.
And he says, "I'll give you a
date when you can come over. "
He says, "Russ, you don't need no hotel.
You can... "
"I have a room for you.
You can stay in me home. "
I was like...
You know, I was, like, stuck for words.
I goes, "Muhammad, don't say
that if you don't mean it. "
He says, "I wouldn't say it
if I didn't mean it. "
It was fabulous.
It was surreal, really,
I mean, the house itself.
If you ever watch the Rocky
films, in Rocky III,
you see Rocky living
in a big white mansion.
That was Muhammad Ali's house
in 1984.
That was the house that
he gave me a room to stay
and take us out through
the days and going out
and meeting the people
and meeting the fans.
And to be there with him and
see it and be on the inside,
it was so special for me. Like,
a very special, special time.
The greatest! Muhammad
Ali, assalamu alaikum.
You look beautiful.
I love you. Bye-bye.
- Ali in three.
- Au revoir, Ali.
It's very hard for when you see
people who've been in with Muhammad,
who've been so ingrained with Muhammad.
It cannot leave them.
I only had a very small piece of being
with Muhammad, but it never left me
'cause they were personal times
and they were very special.
Did you... Did you spend
the night yesterday?
- Yeah.
- Where?
Dad let us stay at your house
last night.
Yeah, your daddy let me stay
last night.
- You slept in her bed?
- No, he stayed somewhere.
- Mine? A big white bed?
- I don't know whose bed.
- I don't know.
- The room with the big long doors?
- I slept on the floor.
- Get out the way!
Hana, you're ruining it.
I want this kinda bike.
Hana, this is 1979.
November the, 12th
and it's about 8:00pm.
Me and Veronica was going out
to have dinner.
- Now?
- Yeah.
Why you don't want us go
and have dinner?
I want you to eat here.
You want me to eat here?
- I'm going to eat with Mommy.
- I don't want you to.
You don't want me to. Why?
I don't want you to.
How old are you? How old are you?
Say, "I'm three years old. "
"I'm three
years old," like that.
Well, I'm gonna take Momma
to have some dinner.
I don't want you to.
Well, you wanna come with?
I don't think that I would, say
that my father was very strict.
He had very strong beliefs
and values and whatnot,
but he wasn't really too strict.
I actually remember when I
was young and growing up,
knowing that I wasn't allowed
to ask my father for something,
like, it was ice cream after hours
or, you know, Daddy's a "yes" man.
He was the "yes" man.
Everything was "yes. "
- OK.
- I want to, Daddy.
- I'll let you go tonight.
- I want to, Daddy.
OK, you can go tonight.
Just stop saying it, OK?
Even from that early age, I realized
that his "yes" wasn't enough.
So I say to him,
"Are you gonna ask Mommy?"
"I need to hear her tell me
too. " So I ran into the room.
I ask my mother for permission. When
she says "yes," then I know I can go.
Daddy take you.
I just can't help it. You...
I want you to ask Mommy, too.
Yeah, I'll let you go.
I would not say
there was a difference
between my father publicly
and privately,
because he's
always very charismatic.
Always looking to entertain,
make you smile, make you laugh.
It's not something
he really turned on.
But at the same time he would turn it
up a notch, I think, for the crowd.
But he is always Muhammad Ali,
even at home, you know?
He was always joking.
I'd come home from school and he'd
be sitting behind his office desk
and sometimes he'd have a little wire,
um, arrow going through his head,
just with a little bit of red
blood, pretending that he was dead.
And we'd come home and find
him and we're so used to him,
we just say, "Oh, Daddy,"
and jump in his lap anyway,
and just didn't even
acknowledge it, you know.
When I meet Joe Frazier,
this will be like a good amateur
fighting a real professional.
This will be like a kid
out of the Olympics
meeting the fastest heavyweight
champion that ever lived.
This will be no contest.
What do you say, Joe?
What do you say to that?
I say he's nothing but a
bunch of noise, that's all.
This is the day, man. You understand?
I just want you to...
You're not fighting Quarry, you're
not fighting Oscar Bonavena,
you're not fighting Sonny Liston.
You're fighting Joe Frazier.
Everybody knows that.
They had a big rivalry, um,
back in the '70s, early '70s.
It was a pretty heavy thing, you know.
Um, you know, it was rough.
It was rough.
Well, I think
that Ali is probably clowning,
but there is no question in my mind
that Joe Frazier is not clowning.
They threw off their respective
earpieces, microphones.
Joe Frazier's watch came off.
There was
a wrestling bout on the floor
and we're really very sorry
this happened.
And there's no question about it. Joe
Frazier is leaving the studio now
and he is deeply upset about
Ali calling him ignorant.
I'm sorry, Joe.
I'm getting sick and tired
of all this mess.
Joe Frazier, the heavyweight
champion of the world,
clumsy, ugly,
flat-footed Joe Frazier.
I'll show you what
a real champion is.
Said that he was an Uncle Tom.
Said he was ugly.
Said he was a gorilla, you know,
and Pop just said, "Well, I'm
going to do what you say I do. "
"You say I'm a gorilla, I'm
gonna be a gorilla on you. "
As a man, Pop was a... he was
like a little puppy dog, man.
He was a calm, gentle, kind...
He was the kind of person that,
everybody would want to be
their best friend, you know.
Mom didn't say too much.
She was always calm.
She was always collected
and she'd, like,
"Oh, don't worry about it, son.
It'll be all right. "
And I said, "That's not right, Mom, what
they're saying about Daddy," you know.
"It's not right what they're saying.
They call him this, they call him that. "
"Don't worry about it, honey. The
Good Lord will work it out. "
I met Mr Ali in New York, man.
He was like,
"Oh, you're Joe's son.
How are you doing, son?
How are you doing?"
"You're looking
all right there. "
But, you know, Pop on the other side,
he was like, "I'm coming to get you. "
The heavyweight champion
of the world, Joe Frazier!
He was more like a fireball
because of the things that,
Mr Ali was saying to him.
It really, you know,
got down into his heart
because here was a guy
that help another brother.
To help him when everybody was
against him
because of not going to the
war, you know what I mean?
And then he was the one to
help him get his license back,
and then for him to say the
things that he said to him
was kinda hard for my dad.
He couldn't understand it.
Hundreds of millions are seeing
this bout around the world.
A packed house at
Madison Square Garden.
And I believe in that, first
fight, that my dad, he wanted,
you know, he wanted to get him.
He wanted to get him.
Why do you think he beat you,
Well, the reason that he got
the decision,
if you looked at my face and his face
after the fight, both eyes were closed.
His nose is blood, his lips
was cut, his head was swollen
and he spent one month in the hospital.
And did you all hear it?
Yeah, surely.
He spent 30 days in intensive care.
No phone calls, no visitors.
Now that's a terrible beating when you
have to stay resting for 30 days.
But he got the decision. But I'm not
complaining. Next time I'll get him.
I remember, um, being at an autograph
signing and a lot of the, you know,
different sports figures would
be there signing autographs,
and Joe Frazier
was there at one.
And my father and him were passing
each other in the hallway
and I remember my father was so
excited to just see Joe Frazier.
He started jumping up and down
and say,
"Come on, Joe, let's play for...
let's show off for the cameras. "
And Joe Frazier just sort of
put his hand up,
looked at him and
kept on walking.
And I remember thinking, "Why
did he just do that to Daddy?"
So that's when I learned,
you know, of the pain
or the, you know, the hostility
or the anger that he still felt.
That he had not let go of
or forgiven my father for yet.
My father was told,
actually, about Joe Frazier
and everything
that he went through
and he read about how his children
would come home from school crying
and my father just put his head down
silently and started to cry himself.
It really upset...
it hurt him to know that.
And I think also a part of him admired
Joe Frazier. He was a great athlete.
At the time in which Joe
Frazier came into the picture,
there was a lot of probably different
emotions my father was dealing with
in taking
the stands that he took.
Then Joe Frazier
sort of, in his mind,
became representative of what he would
say, you know, was going on in the world
and what was being done wrong
to blacks at that time.
So when he got in that
position, the new champion,
and my father never actually
lost that title in the ring.
Unfortunately for Joe Frazier, he
just sort of became this fixture
that just represented all that.
Oh, he definitely had respect
for my father, we know that.
I know that and I
really realized it,
like, 'cause after
the fight in Manila,
he came to me and he said,
"You know, hey, all the things
I said about,
about the family and your
dad, please, you know,
tell your father, you know,
I apologize about that. "
But Pop wanted to hear it from
him for himself, that's all.
In the end, before,
my father passed away,
he and Ali came together in love and
unity and oneness of the spirit.
And, man,
I was so happy to see that.
They hugged, embraced and, it
was something cool, you know.
That was fantastic.
There's a story
in today's "Post"
that you're gonna go up to Deer
Lake and start training again.
There is?
Yeah, so what they're saying
is you're gonna come back.
- That'll shock 'em, won't it?
- Yeah.
- That'll shock 'em!
- Listen...
I'll come back for the fourth time.
I'll take my crown for the fourth time.
I hope it's not true,
between you and me.
Because, you've conquered all
the worlds you could conquer.
Can you imagine? Can you
imagine four-time champion?
but what do you need with it,
Don't need it.
What do you need with it?
Just talking.
I'm just talking.
Nobody is ever gonna be
a three-time champion again.
I know. Nobody. Not
in our lifetime.
- I'm just talking.
- Yeah, yeah.
Many people wanna know
why am I doing this.
Champion, why? I say, "Why?
Because it is there. "
Why did we go to the moon?
Because it's there.
We're not satisfied. Now we're
mapping out a plan to go to Mars.
Why? Why Mars?
Ain't the moon far enough?
Mars, because it's there
and there's the possibility and
a chance of us reaching it.
Why am I coming back?
Because it's there.
- All right, here it is.
- A comeback by Muhammad Ali.
Drama of the Bahamas is
now about to begin.
Drama in the Bahamas.
They say, "No. " We close the
doors, you're finished.
But if the guy they said
"No" to is Muhammad Ali,
they said "No" to the greatest
of all time.
I can remember my father's last
fight with Trevor Berbick.
We were at Deer Lake, his training camp.
He called it Fighter's Heaven.
And, um, Daddy would run up the hill.
He called it Agony Hill.
And I would follow behind him
and behind that would be a car
that would be there
for when he got tired.
And, um, just riding, riding alongside
with him, jogging up the hill.
I was probably five, I would think.
Four or five.
They say I'm old.
Do I look old to you?
I don't know. I'm pretty.
He did used to say that it was
hard to get up and have to train
and do those things.
You know, put your body through that
when you're already comfortable in life.
You have a big house,
you have the money you need.
But when you're trying to make
it and you have this hunger
and this need to prove to
yourself and to the world
how great and wonderful you
are, it's a lot easier.
So at that time in his life
he was, what, 38 years old.
He already had Parkinson's,
although it was undiagnosed.
People saw, you know, you
could hear it in his voice.
The slurred speech and the, you know,
the discoordination in his movement.
Um, but no-one really
knew what it was, so...
There it is. It's all over.
What a fight.
A tremendous fight.
A very good fight.
Ali in much better condition
than they thought he would be.
Everybody here feels now
that Ali really won the fight.
Berbick is walking around.
He's been holding his hands up in the
air as though he did win the fight.
However, there is a look
of gloom in his eyes,
as though he may have figured that
he did lose it by a decision.
My father is one of those people
that would have spent the rest of
his life trying to make a comeback.
He actually joked about it probably
up till age, I would say, 65.
"Wouldn't it be something to
shake up, shock the world?"
"We'll shake up the world. Come
back, take that title back. "
Judge Jay Edson votes 99-94. Unanimous
decision for Trevor Berbick!
Well, there you have it.
Trevor Berbick has
the unanimous decision.
He's always defied impossible odds,
doing the seemingly impossible,
you know, and proving to the world, and
himself, that he can accomplish it.
And I think that's part
of what my father needed,
and it's part of what made him
who he is.
Had he not done it,
he wouldn't be the three-time
heavyweight champion of the world.
So he couldn't say goodbye to
boxing, so obviously, you know,
ultimately boxing had to say
goodbye for him.
Boxing will always continue
without me.
The Concorde, I understand,
is not too economical
and they're talking
about grounding it.
Well, if they do,
jet planes will still fly,
but you just
won't have a Concorde.
So, I was the Concorde of boxing
and the other fighters are jets.
I was at a higher altitude than the
rest, moving faster than the rest,
but you'll just have to get
used to riding on jets again.
You can't ride Concorde anymore.
We're on our way to meet
Mike Tyson,
one of the most unique people
on planet Earth.
One time Muhammad Ali and
I were in New York City
and we got a call
about a reform school.
No celebrities or athletes ever visit
those kids, and they're good kids.
And we went out to
this reform school
and then three months later
I got a call from Cus D'Amato
and he said, "Gene,
lightning struck twice. "
He said, "I got a young kid here
who's gonna be the heavyweight
champ of the world some day. "
"He knows you. " I said,"He knows me?
How does he know me, Cus?"
When I saw Muhammad Ali I was at a
reformatory in the Bronx, New York,
named Spofford.
And, um, Muhammad Ali came
one day out of the blue
and someone say,
"We have a surprise. "
We saw the movie The Greatest and
then after that Muhammad Ali came in
and that was just a really, um,
interesting moment in my life.
I said, "Wow, that's awesome. " You
know, "How can I be like that?"
Got involved with boxing
and, um, I met Cus
and Cus was very, um,
acquainted with, Ali
and, um, he would talk to him
on the phone.
You know, he'd call him up,
talk to him.
Him and Gene'd be talking, and
Gene'd put Ali on the phone.
And, sometimes I'd go over to the
phone and listen to 'em talk,
sneak another phone, put it... listen
to what they're talking about.
And, um, he just...
it was just in my environment.
Everything was fighting and war,
and the other concept of war
and fighting and war.
You know,
it's just the whole thing.
Who would have won if you
fought this man in your prime?
Ali, Ali!
Ali! Ali!
Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait.
I was so fast.
But if he hit me...
- That's if you catch me.
- Yeah. What would you say, Mike?
I... by no means... I'm vain.
I know I'm great,
but can I tell you something?
In this situation every head must
bow, every tongue must confess.
This is
the greatest of all time.
You can't really explain, um,
what Muhammad Ali is.
You know, there's no word
really to explain it
as far as
achievements are concerned.
And, um, emotional and psychological
achievements and, you know, inspiration
that, that, um,
had came from Muhammad Ali.
Um, you just can't imagine
that in the word "great. "
There has to be
another word created.
My father has a lot of sides,
and some sides are focused on
and some sides aren't.
And you hear about the fights.
You hear about, you know,
he's a good person to people,
but you don't hear about family that
much or what that meant to him.
You know, he used to always say,
"When you guys grow up, I
want us all to live on a hill
and everyone has a house
on the same street. "
I admire him because I have half-sisters
and he had children out of wedlock
and he would make sure we all
converged in LA to be with him
and get to get to
know each other.
He wasn't a perfect person, but I
admired how he was with his kids
and what he wanted for us.
When you all get to be grown
ladies and get married,
and we look back
when you were coming up
you can say, "I didn't live with
all my sisters and brothers,
but Daddy let me see 'em,
and we knew 'em. "
"Daddy let us play together. "
Back in the days when Muhammad and
I was young kids, he would say,
"Rudy, I can see it in the stars.
God is talking to me. "
He would tell me his destiny,
how great he would be.
He said, "And I want you to be with me.
I love you, my brother. "
He's a sweet,
sweet, sweet person.
God blessed him with having
insight to predict the future.
"I'm gonna be the world's greatest boxer.
I'm gonna be a great man. "
He wanted to become famous
to help people.
He's a wonderful, wonderful...
I can remember feeling
very proud of my father
and just an overwhelming sense of pride.
I guess it's a euphoric feeling.
You know, when I was...
From an early age,
anywhere we'd go together, because
not just him getting attention,
but the way that people would react to
him and sometimes they'd be in tears.
And I know my mother
hadn't seen my dad,
maybe, I would say, three or
four years after the marriage.
You know, he would come around and
three years might have gone by
where she hadn't seen him
and when he came to the house,
we lived in the Venice Canals,
she was remarried
and she looked at him
and she hugged him.
Then she started to cry
and she left the room.
My father looked at me and he
says, "Why is she crying?"
So I had to ask her. She said, "Well, I
looked into his eyes and I saw God. "
you know, and I said, "Oh. "
"I know what you mean,"
you know?
He has this twinkle in his eye
and he has this spirit within
him that's so profound
that people sometimes are moved to
just silence when they see him.
It just makes you more, I think,
cognizant of just the spiritual
side of fame and celebrity.
Not just famous for being famous,
but it makes you wanna know why.
Why he was famous,
why people love him,
the stands that he took,
the controversy.
Everything that he went through,
it's all part of his story
of getting to where he is now.
You know, the ups and the downs
that all makes him who he is.
I'm with him in his
training camp at Deer Lake.
Cold. Freezing cold.
Um, you know, ten degrees outside and
maybe 20 degrees below zero, wind chill.
And he'd say, "Hey, George,
let's go for a walk. "
I said, "What, are you crazy?" "Hey,
George, let's go for a walk!"
I said, "What... " "Hey,
George, let's go for a walk!"
I figure he's got something
he's gotta tell me.
And we go out in the snow
and we're...
Walking in the snow.
We walk about 30, 40 feet and
then he said, "Hey, George. "
I figure, here it comes.
"You know I got the fastest left
hand in the history of boxing. "
And I...
I said, "Yeah, for... fastest
left hand for a heavyweight. "
"No, no, no, every weight class. " I
said, "No, no, whoa, whoa, whoa. "
Willie Pep, lightweight, middleweight.
Sugar Ray Robinson... No, no, no.
"You got the fastest left hand in
the history of boxing heavyweight. "
He said, "Every weight class. "
"You wanna... you wanna
see it?" I said, "Yeah. "
"You wanna see it again?"
I think he's one of the greatest
men of the twentieth century.
One of the great heroes of all time.
Not our time, all time.
The most famous American ever.
To this day.
Ever. Yeah. Worldwide.
I mean, who doesn't know
who Muhammad Ali is?
I remember
the second Joe Frazier fight,
Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Ali beat Joe Frazier very easily.
The next day they have
a press conference,
so we walk from the Essex
House, Central Park East,
all the way down
to Madison Square Garden.
He looked good
and he knew he looked good.
He could look in the mirror.
He'd never seen a mirror he didn't like.
Look in there.
By the time we got
to Madison Square Garden,
there must have been
1,000 people behind us.
As I looked around, I realized
Muhammad Ali was no mere fighter.
He was more than just a fighter.
He was King of the World.
Just another ordinary day
Seven years, same old way
Dying is hard
I can't bear to stay
Just another ordinary day
Seven years, life rots away
And dying is hard
I can't bear to stay
Just another ordinary
Just another ordinary day
Morning comes
and then it takes you away
I had a dream last night. You and
I were together. We're old men.
But we're sitting and we're talking.
"We had some fun. "
And you said, "Gene, you remember?
You remember, Gene?"
Muhammad Ali!
I wish that I had tapes of myself
from when I was this small.
I'm sure most people do, but many
people never think about these things.
Well, thank the Almighty God
Allah that I appreciate life
and I realize how great life is
once we get old and you remember
being back at this age again.
I know it's nice to have a
record of all these things.
It's history conscience. I'm
always thinking about history.
If anyone wondered why me, Muhammad
Ali, is making these tapes,
it's because
history is so beautiful.
At the time we're living life,
we don't realize.
We found our love
On Blueberry Hill
On Blueberry Hill
She was mine
She was mine
Once upon a time
Once upon a time
This is December 6th, 1979,
about 11:00pm.
Signing off. Goodbye, y'all.
I get a feeling
People all around
trying to throw me down
I need a re-do
So I took a swing
and spun you around
What do you say, stewardess? You
mean the plane is gonna crash?
Say a prayer?
Recite a Bible verse.
I don't know no Bible verse.
Just do something religious?
I'll take up a collection.
We got it really going on
You'd better run
Run like the breeze
I gotta move
People all around
getting in my way
I get naked
I got something to give
Something to say
We got it going on
You'd better run like the breeze
We got it really going on
You'd better run
Run like the breeze
You'd better run,
you'd better run
You'd better run
You'd better run,
you'd better run
Oh, you'd better run
You'd better run,
you'd better run
You'd better run
You'd better run,
you'd better run
Oh, you'd better run