The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013) Movie Script

Well, now, with just
a slight skip of the heart,
we have, I think,
got through to Chicago and Muhammad Ali.
- Are you hearing us from London, Muhammad?
- Yes, sir. Loud and clear.
- How are you doing today?
- Very well. Thank you. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for allowing me to come to
you live by Early Bird satellite.
Now, let me just get a few
facts straight with you.
You're a professional
fighter, right?
I am a minister of
the religion of Islam also.
A professional fighter
and a minister as well.
- Yes, sir. - David Susskind would like to
ask you some questions. David.
Well, I don't know
where to begin.
I find nothing amusing or interesting
or tolerable about this man.
He's a disgrace to
his country, his race...
and what he laughingly
describes as his profession.
He is a convicted felon
in the United States.
He has been found guilty.
He is out on bail.
He will inevitably go to prison,
as well he should.
He's a simplistic fool
and a pawn.
Muhammad Ali.
One of the greatest athletes
of all time.
As the first three-time heavyweight
boxing champion of the world,
he thrilled, entertained
and inspired us.
He was
given the Medal of Freedom...
by the president
of the United States.
The American people
are proud to call Muhammad Ali...
one of our own.
What does it mean,
the Medal of Freedom?
We bring you up. Oh, yes.
This is Muhammad Ali, the great fighter,
the great humanitarian,
the great Muslim.
Years ago,
Ali came and sat right here.
And Ali looked at me.
He said, "Still a nigger."
I said, "Oh, Ali.
Don't talk like that."
He said, "Still a nigger."
What did my brother mean?
Olympic champion,
and the flag is going...
And I'm standing so proud.
I just hear the man say,
"Champion of the whole world...
Cassius Clay."
Olympic champion of the world...
...from Kentucky.
Southern boy raised poor becoming
a gold medal winner, oh, man.
Oh! I still get excited.
Me, my mother, my father
were standing at the terminal
when he came off the plane.
I was so happy.
It was beautiful.
Any ideas now as to whom
you might sign with?
I would like to get with a nice,
honest crowd. Nice, clean people.
And with the right backing,
I believe I'll have a chance...
to become the world's
heavyweight champion.
It's best to be with somebody you know
and from your own town if possible.
I'm Gordon B. Davidson, attorney for
the Louisville Sponsoring Group,
owner of Cassius Clay and the hired hand to
keep the group and Cassius Clay together.
We had a contract
with Ali for six years.
We were as powerful a group as you
could put together in Louisville.
These were all capitalists.
I'm Bill Faversham,
vice president of Brown-Foreman,
and one of the founders
of the group of Cassius Clay.
I'm also his manager.
I'm W.L. Lyons Brown,
chairman of the board of
Brown-Foreman Distillers Corporation.
I'm also a farmer
and in the oil business.
The original group,
they're all deceased.
I'm the only survivor.
The reason for the group was
to aid, assist and protect...
this fine Louisville athlete.
He was a young fellow
who wanted to be great.
Cassius, you say you're gonna be
champion by the time you're 21. Is that right?
As you know, today is the jet age.
Everybody's trying to break records.
There's the man who says that
he'll be on the moon by 1970.
They're gonna make cars
that will run by sunlight.
Well, those are pretty
game predictions.
I wouldn't want to do
too much bragging about it,
but everybody that watches me, they say that
I'm the greatest that they've ever seen.
But did I think he
would be the heavyweight champion?
I had doubts about it.
And I think the group
had doubts about it...
because the odds,
it's like winning the Kentucky Derby.
You have a horse,
and the horse looks pretty good,
but it is gonna win the Derby?
He never had a doubt about it.
For me to say it was
a civic thing... was.
This is the house behind us that
Muhammad and I were raised in...
for the first 13 years
of our life.
Who's the champ?
I'm the champ.
- Come on.
- You come on.
I was good,
but he was more gifted than I
Left jab,
right cross,
And we shared a room together.
It had twin beds.
He had a bed
on one side on the room.
I had a bed
on the side of the room.
And from Mom, we got kindness,
gentleness, sweetness
and affection, love.
All the good things from Mom.
My father, his name was
Cassius M. Clay Sr.
As I understand, I'm
Cassius Marcellus Clay VI.
Well, Cassius Marcellus Clay
is a great name in Kentucky.
Cassius Marcellus Clay...
the old guy, the white guy,
for whom Cassius was named...
he was a very strong
I did talk to the Clays a lot.
Always a very friendly relationship.
The father was kind of
an in-and-out sort of fellow...
who painted signs
and other things for a living.
My father was painting
the churches here in Louisville.
My dad painted
this beautiful portrait of
Jesus Christ rescuing Peter.
Peter started denying to believe
in Christ and he started sinking
When I went
to church on Sunday,
and I always asked my mother,
"How come is everything white?"
I said, "Why is Jesus white
with blond hair and blue eyes?
Angels are white."
I knew something was wrong,
but I couldn't pinpoint it.
They had a lawyer
whose name was Alberta Jones.
She was an African-American
lawyer and a very good one.
He had little regard for money,
except he wanted to have it to spend.
When the group had him,
the top rate
for income tax was 91%.
It's now 35.
So the more he made,
the more he paid to the government.
To solve that problem,
the group paid
for everything...
so he could just concentrate
on his boxing.
do you believe that a fighter...
actually tries to
kill another fighter?
Does he get that vicious?
Do you get that vicious?
Every time I enter a ring,
I intend to down him.
And if he should fall,
he falls.
Well, that's everybody's
intention or we wouldn't go in.
We had a fund that we fondly jokingly called
"The Orange Juice Fund."
When he was in Florida,
we would get the bills...
and they would be
in the range of, say,
2,000 gallons worth
of orange juice.
And we knew that he wasn't drinking
2,000 gallons of orange juice.
But the entourage managed to get
a little one way or another.
We could not foresee the
difficulties that would lie ahead...
as far as military service and,
of course, the Muslim affiliation.
This is the corner where
I met Cassius Clay in 1961.
I'm standing on the corner of Second
Avenue and Sixth Street in Miami, Florida.
I was selling the Muhammad
Speaks newspaper...
to propagate
the faith of Islam.
We tried to clean
our people up.
We were trying to be the best
citizens that American had.
People trying to be righteous.
We didn't smoke.
We didn't use drugs.
We respected our women.
We train our children to be the same way.
This is what he saw.
Cassius Clay holler
across the street at me.
He say, "Hey, brother,
why are we called Negroes?"
Why are we called Negroes?
"Why are we blind,
deaf and dumb?"
Why are we deaf,
dumb and blind?
Why is everybody
making progress...
and yet we lag so far behind?
I say, "Hey, man. You hip
to the teachings then."
He say, "Yeah, man."
Well, I took it on myself
to program him, we might say,
keep after him to become
a Muslim in the Nation of Islam.
But I wasn't the first one
he heard it from,
'cause he heard it mainly from that
record Minister Farrakhan put out...
"White Man's Heaven
is a Black Man's Hell."
When the slave
master wanted to have some sport
He would heap on our parents
cruelties of the worst sort
Burn them at stake
Hang them on trees
His ears were deaf
to our parents' pleas
Oh, my friend,
it's easy to tell
White man heaven
is a black man hell
When Cassius
Marcellus Clay heard the song...
"A White Man's Heaven
is a Black Man's Hell"...
which is still true
to this very day...
then he wanted to become
a part of a movement...
that would free the minds and
hearts and spirit of our people.
So he became a follower
of the Nation of Islam.
Black people at that time
were tremendously vulnerable.
Remember, we had no... There was really
no advocate for the black community...
other than Martin Luther King
and the civil rights movement.
But we wanted to overcome
yesterday, not someday.
So the whole
civil rights motif...
was not attractive to us.
The overalls and the Southern
agrarian accoutrement...
that they were fond of,
this rubbed us the wrong way.
I mean, we were city guys,
you know.
We wanted to look cool
and urbane.
We didn't want to act as if we
were farm workers, you know.
I took Cassius Clay to Detroit.
I kind of introduced him
to Malcolm at that time.
It is time for you and me
to stand up for ourselves.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad
teaches us...
don't let the white man
speak for you...
and don't let the white man
fight for you.
I think Malcolm
X was absolutely critical...
to bringing Ali in
to the Nation of Islam.
He was charismatic and Ali
was equally charismatic.
And Ali was not very
sophisticated politically.
I think Malcolm simply bowled him over
with his wisdom and his eloquence.
Egypt was judged
for enslaving the Hebrews.
God destroyed them.
This was the Judgment Day in their day.
Today, America's faced
with the same thing.
If she doesn't let us go with the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad out of this country,
then America will be destroyed just
as surely as Egypt was destroyed...
and Babylon was destroyed.
I came into the
Nation of Islam in 1950.
The minister
was talking about...
this cross...
that black people
had been nailed to.
Said their hands had been nailed to the
cross where they couldn't use them...
to work for themselves.
Their feet had been nailed
to this cross...
where they couldn't travel
as free men.
A crown of thorns had been
crushed into their brain...
where they were unable
to think for themselves.
And at that moment,
it appeared as though that...
you know,
when you turn a light on...
bling, it clicked on
in my head.
The Nation of Islam will say,
"Well, this is white America.
Why should they include you?
This is their country. Um, don't expect
to be included in their mythology.
Create your own mythology."
One of the reasons why
we could never progress...
is because we had been indoctrinated
by a culture that demeaned us.
Christianity was widely interpreted
to be a slave-making religion.
Islam was seen to be
a slave-breaking religion.
Greetings to you.
I'm Elijah Muhammad, the preacher
of freedom, justice and equality...
for my people who has been lost
and now found.
If you are a free man, don't say
"I wanna make you treat me right"
and you have made a slave
out of my fathers, mothers,
sisters and brothers for 400 years.
I don't want to make you
do nothing but let me go!
Do you feel that
integration is meaningless?
I think integration
is completely sin. the black man
and white man.
is the only solution.
I don't think many
members of the Nation of Islam...
were concerned really with the
intricacies of the religion itself.
Elijah Muhammad reinterpreted Islam
as part of a liberatory ideology.
And that's the way it was
presented to the Nation of Islam.
I said the earth belongs
to the black man.
I don't know. There's some
mysterious force there.
Because he wasn't really
a charismatic guy.
But yet he had this amazing
attraction to some of the...
the meanest
and most sociopathic
members of the community,
as well as righteous folk.
He was indeed
a majestic leader.
When I first went to Miami
training for a professional fight,
I went to a Muslim meeting.
And as soon as I heard it, I knew this is
what I've been looking for all of my life.
Well, the man proved to me
that I was not a Negro,
that Cassius Clay
was not my name,
and I didn't know my language
or my culture, my religion.
Today, few Negro leaders...
militant or moderate...
feel that the Negro masses will accept
the Black Muslim social doctrine.
I'm convinced that a doctrine
of black supremacy...
is as dangerous as a doctrine
of white supremacy.
Fear of the secret dark.
They are black Muslims,
a national religious cult that says it
will take over the United States...
and eventually the world.
Black capitalists...
they preach "build black, buy black."
The Muslims operate 47 schools of
their own in the United States,
including the University
of Islam in Chicago.
Growing up in the Nation of
Islam was extraordinary.
We were living in a nation
within a nation,
which is this nation.
Cassius Marcellus Clay
came to Chicago...
to visit the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad's empire.
He said, "This Elijah Muhammad,
he called white men the devil and... I mean,
that's pretty bold.
I want to meet
this powerful man."
And that's where I was at.
I was in the school,
and I was 10 years old.
Clay, he was introduced to the
whole masses in the auditorium.
And he stood up there
and said to us...
"I'm gonna be heavyweight champion before
I'm 21. So get your autographs now."
So he came to me.
He says, "Hey, little girl"...
And he was
scribbling his name...
I says, "Brother,
I'm gonna tell you something."
And as I'm telling him this,
I'm tearing up the autograph.
"And you learn who you are and you
don't have the white man's name...
the slave name, you know...
then you can come back to me
and we'll talk."
And I opened up his hand
and put the paper in his hand.
And he froze.
And he said,
"What? Who is she?"
And I walked away.
55,000 people came that night.
You should have seen
the people. One layer.
Two layers. 10,000 on each layer.
15,000, 20,000 on some.
Four layers and a fifth layer.
People were looking
down on the ring.
55,000 and Cleopatra
was at ringside.
We don't believe it.
The fifth round came.
I hit him.
Yeah, I said, "Come on, sucker."
And he said, "Break it up."
I said, "There he is."
Let me see you close your
mouth and just keep it closed.
- Well, you know that's impossible.
- No, no, now keep it closed.
You know that's impossible.
I'm the greatest.
And I'm knocking out all bums.
And if you get too smart,
I'll knock you out.
Cassius Clay
was training for the Sonny Liston fight
For the heavyweight championship
I wanted him to be
a registered Muslim.
When you come into Islam,
we write a letter...
saying we believe
in the teachings.
And we put our slave name
in the letter.
Those were the names the slave master
had when they owned our ancestors.
So he wrote his letter
and sent if off to Chicago...
and then they sent back
what we called "X."
He became Cassius X.
And then the promoters, they was trying
to get Ali to denounce the religion.
And they told Ali,
"You got to get rid of them
Muslim kooks...
and Captain Sam"...
That's me...
"and denounce that religion,
otherwise there ain't gonna be no fight."
Well, Ali had been training all his life for
a fight for the heavyweight championship.
So that summer
scare a man to death.
I said, "Man,
don't believe that."
I said, "Money's
the white man's god."
And I said, "You the only one
who can make any money for 'em."
I said, "Hold to your belief."
Ali was packing up his bus to leave Miami,
and they ran over there.
"Uh, where you goin', Champ?"
He said, "I'm fin
to go to Louisville."
They said, "Wait a minute.
The fight's on. The fight's on.
You just don't say you're a Muslim.
We ain't gonna say it neither."
Ali said, "All right,
I won't talk about it."
Cassius Clay had no right to be
in a ring with Sonny Liston.
He had never beaten anybody
of importance.
He was untried.
Jerry, I'm the greatest fighter
that ever stepped foot in the ring.
But I'm getting ready to participate
in the biggest fight of all time.
More money will be
lost that night.
This will be the biggest upset
in the century of all boxing.
I think you're
a big bag of wind.
Now, just hear me out.
Wait a minute. Hold it a second.
- I think that, one...
- Bodyguards.
Hold it.
I think that you're the damnedest
showman that ever lived,
- and you ain't kidding anybody.
- People...
Will you let me finish and shut
your mouth for one minute.
Cassius, Sonny Liston said that you should
be arrested for impersonating a fighter.
He said you should be turned
over his knee and spanked.
The odds were 7-to-1.
It's very big odds...
for a heavyweight
championship fight.
I'm just ready to fight.
And I'm glad it'll be here...
where all these bigmouth people
here in Miami...
talking about I talk too much
and Liston's gonna whup me.
Well, I want all of them to be there.
And I'm gonna shut up all of you's mouths.
The challenger from
Louisville, Kentucky...
Cassius Clay.
- Clay.
- Cassius Marcellus Clay, 22 years of age.
Going for all the marbles
in the boxing business.
In my opinion, fights are always won
with fists and not with mouth talk.
I pick Liston to win
by the fifth round.
- It has to be Liston.
- Liston is a much bigger puncher.
- The fifth round.
- Oh, I think in the third.
I'm not quite sure that anything
human can hurt Sonny Liston.
Cassius Clay
on the move as we see.
The right hand!
The best punch of the fight so far!
It was not a heavyweight
championship fight physically.
There was more to it than that.
I looked at all of the historic things
that were taking place on this earth,
and to me, time itself
was on Cassius's side.
- - Seconds
remaining in the sixth.
The crowd now cheering
the challenger.
What do you think is going on
in Sonny's mind at this point?
I think Sonny's beginning to worry now.
- At least his corner's beginning to worry.
They might be stopping it.
That might be all, ladies and gentlemen.
It's a technical knockout.
Okay, get Cassius Clay...
Wait! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
At the black
Muslims convention in Chicago,
Elijah Muhammad came closer than anyone
so far in proclaiming Clay a member.
Clay has hinted that he is
at least on the fringe.
Elijah Muhammad all but
pushed him across.
The enemy wanted him
to come out all blasted.
They had said the he would
Liston would tear up
that pretty face of yours.
But Allah and myself said,
"No, no"
God's with me!
Can't nobody be against me!
I shook up the world!
I know God!
I know the real God!
You must listen to me!
You tell it, boy.
The morning after,
he was very subdued.
I don't have to talk no more.
I done proved my point.
All I have to do is just be a nice,
clean gentleman. That's all.
Nice, clean gentleman.
At that moment,
all the older reporters walked away.
And then one young reporter
"What about the rumor that
you're a card-carrying Muslim?"
And he... What...
You know, what does that mean?
I like everybody.
I treat everybody right.
"What about segregation?
Don't you want to be part of the civil
rights struggle? Integration?" He said, "No."
I don't have to be
what you want me to be.
I'm free to be what I want to be
and think what I want to think.
That was kind of his
Declaration of Independence.
This is complete freedom, not just a
cup of coffee or a seat in a school...
or a token...
This is real.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad say he was
too big of a man to carry that "X"...
and named him Muhammad Ali.
I remember the exact moment
we told my dad and mom.
We said, "The Honorable Elijah
Muhammad gave us our name"
They became very angry.
They said,
"What in the world do you mean?"
My brother said, "Dad, I'm Muhammad Ali."
You got to accept it.
What does it mean?
"Muhammad" means "worthy of all praises"
and "Ali" means "most high."
At the New York Times,
the top editor felt...
we met you as Cassius Clay.
Until you go into a court of law and
change your name, you are Cassius Clay.
And it really
kind of bothered me.
Nobody asked John Wayne or Rock
Hudson what their names were.
But I tried to slip it in
when I could.
I usually ended up writing "Muhammad Ali,
a.k.a. Cassius Clay."
His change of name,
what did it threaten?
If he was white, they would be referring
to him as the All-American boy.
It was an
affront to many Americans...
that the heavyweight
champion of the world...
would reject American identity
and all of that entails...
for something as obscure and
cultish as the Nation of Islam.
- Cassius, you're... -
I'm not Cassius. You still calling me...
- Or Muhammad, you're talking...
- I'm not no white man.
So you want to keep calling me a
white man's name. I'm not white.
I don't want to be called
after your name no more.
I'm not no slave.
I'm Muhammad Ali.
I was working in the bakery...
and he would go in
and he would say,
"I know your name.
I know your name."
And I'd say, "Well, whoop-de-do."
I says that.
He says, "And I got a name of culture now.
My name is Muhammad Ali."
Now that he gave me the beautiful
name of Muhammad Ali...
and took away that slave name
of Cassius Clay,
now I can go all over the world.
All over the world!
Muslims all over the world
who never followed boxing said,
"Ooh! Look.
There's a Muslim in America
named Muhammad Ali.
Those are big, big names
in the Islamic world.
His international appeal,
it was vast.
The young people of Ghana
want to welcome you.
Ghana, Nigeria,
Pakistan and Turkey,
they call me
their champion too.
I was surprised.
The whole world was watching it.
- They sure were.
- Yeah.
What kind of impression
do you try to leave...
on the nations
you visit over there?
Well, uh,
just as a clean-living Muslim.
Letting them know they have hundreds and
thousands of brothers here in America.
All of these are Muslim
countries that I've been to.
He's in a better position
than anyone else...
to restore the racial pride to not
only our people in this country,
but all over the world.
As-salaam alaikum.
I've been all over into
the deepest parts of Africa...
and Egypt, and everybody knows and are
talking about the Muslims in America.
And if it was not for the teachings
of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad...
not bragging,
but a man in my position...
that would be the last place
I would go is Africa and Egypt.
The first stop would have been Paris,
London, France, like the rest of them.
He hired Elijah
Muhammad's son to be his "manager."
But it was very clear that he didn't really mean
manager like the Louisville Sponsoring Group.
How many managers do you have?
Oh, I have 11 backers.
I don't... I have one manager.
They flattered him.
They treated him as a very important person,
which, of course, he was.
They made him a hero.
He didn't live
in Louisville anymore.
But he was never introduced as anything
except from Louisville, Kentucky.
To a boxer, that's not a small thing,
how you're announced.
Ali kept his word on every
fight that we made for him.
And he never argued about black
or white problems with us.
I think Ali probably told
the Muslims
don't mess with the
Louisville Sponsoring Group.
Leave them alone.
I understand that you're headed
to meet with Elijah Muhammad.
- Yes, sir. Having dinner with him.
- Uh-huh.
One of the main reasons is your
friendship with Malcolm X.
- He's a friend of yours now, isn't he?
- Yeah. He is a brother of mine.
- He's my brother. Whatever he do,
he's my brother. - Uh-huh.
Now that he's split away
from the...
I don't know about splitting. I'll have
to see the higher authority on that.
There's been great
publicity given to the fact...
that heavyweight champion Cassius
Clay is one of your followers.
Well, Cassius is following
Elijah Muhammad.
And, uh, I'm no longer a follower
of Elijah Muhammad myself.
And I think that
the black Muslim movement,
if it doesn't adopt
the Sunni practice of Islam,
that it will disintegrate
and fall apart.
There's no organization
in this country...
that could do more
for the struggling black man...
than the black Muslim movement
if it wanted to.
But it has gotten
into the possession...
of a man who's become senile,
and then he has surrounded
himself by his children...
who are now in power
and want nothing but luxury...
and will do anything to
safeguard their own interests.
People like myself and Ali,
we were in the valley of decision.
Should I follow a man
that taught me...
or should I follow the teacher
of the man who taught me?
Elijah Muhammad called
all of his officials...
national officials
to Chicago in October...
and ordered them to kill
or maim any of his followers...
who leave him to follow me.
Does this split disturb you
that's been reported?
No. What Malcolm X does is his business.
He's one man.
Muhammad Ali chose to go
with the establishment, so to speak.
Elijah Muhammad has given
his blessing to a new recruiter...
Cassius Muhammad Ali Clay.
We are the greatest!
Clay is no Malcolm X,
but he has become
an idol for youngsters.
A lot of Malcolmites
who were following Malcolm...
were really not equally attracted
to the Nation of Islam.
They were attracted to Malcolm's audacity,
his eloquence...
and his vision, which, in some ways,
elaborated the vision of the Nation of Islam.
I pray that God will bless you
in everything that you do.
I pray that you
will grow intellectually...
so that you can understand
the problems of the world...
and where you fit into
in that world picture.
He's a hero to me.
He stood out among all black people.
He showed the white man
where it was at.
Who do you believe is
responsible for Malcolm X's death?
The white power structure
is America is behind it.
And they're quick to capitalize on it by
saying that one of his own kind did it.
But they put it up to be done.
Now, I give him credit for the good work he
done when he was with the Nation of Islam.
We didn't have nobody better.
But Elijah Muhammad made him.
When Malcolm was a good man...
preaching the teachings of
the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,
I would have
gave my life for him.
But when he turned viciously...
against the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad,
if I could have got a hold of him,
I might have killed him myself.
But we didn't kill him.
'Cause you know why?
Because we took orders from
the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
He told us not to touch him.
Let him just go.
Malcolm is the victim
of his own preaching.
He preached violence,
and so he become the victim of it.
So many things have
been said wrong about Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was
a very nice person.
The Bible says "He without sin
cast the first stone."
That's a strong statement.
The night that
Malcolm X was killed,
there was a fire
in Ali's apartment.
The implication
was that it was arson.
That it was some
sort of revenge.
Uh, I don't know.
I think there's no question that Ali
had to have been scared himself.
Malcolm, in many ways,
was a more important political
figure than Muhammad Ali.
I mean, if you could waste him,
you could certainly waste Ali.
He was still just a boxer.
I feel for his life because the
condition the world is in today.
And, uh, you never know
what's going to happen...
when you're in public life
like he is.
And I'm much concerned about the
fire that started in his apartment.
And I do wish that he would
withdraw from this movement...
because I am awful worried
about him.
We raised him
to be a Christian...
and took him to church every
Sunday when he was small...
on up till he got out, you know,
in the world on his own.
And then he got in this organization
which we do not approve of at all.
Your mother was quoted
yesterday in Louisville as saying...
that she felt you ought to
leave the Muslim movement.
- How do you feel about... - It's natural
for a mother to be worried about her son...
with the press writing all of these
things about somebody's life's in danger.
You know how the press
can blow things up...
and make it look like we
in a war with some black people.
We not at war with nobody.
And I'm walking the
streets daily by myself.
And, uh, if anybody want me,
they can find me.
Malcolm X and anybody else
who attacks, uh...
talks about attacking
Elijah Muhammad will die.
No man can oppose the message of Almighty
God, uh, verbally or physically...
and get away with it.
Floyd Patterson didn't think that there
should be a Muslim heavyweight champion.
Refused to call Ali
by his new name.
Cassius Clay
doesn't fully understand...
what the black Muslim
stands for.
It's like the Ku Klux Klan.
I think that hurts
the championship quite a bit.
I'm gonna have to give him a good whipping.
And I have entitled it
"A Floyd Patterson Humiliation Punishment."
Floyd was kind
of a hero to us at one point.
You know, a black heavyweight champion is
always a big hit in the black community.
But when he came up
against Muhammad Ali,
he was fighting the fight
of America...
doing the job of slaying
the militant Negro.
I was at the
Floyd Patterson fight.
The man was bent over like
somebody with osteoporosis.
He couldn't really defend himself.
The fight should have been stopped.
One or two good combinations
and he'd be gone.
I think he carried Floyd Patterson just
so that he could inflict the punishment.
The champion
continues to be on target.
It was disgusting.
Muhammad Ali had
prolonged the punishment...
to make sure Patterson
understood his offense.
It perfectly harmonized with our
feelings about Floyd Patterson.
So Muhammad Ali became
even more heroic.
It was a truly terrible moment
in boxing,
as was the way he took apart
Ernie Terrell.
I don't usually
make predictions,
but I see Clay with
such limited ability...
that I'm predicting
that I will knock him out.
My name is Muhammad Ali, and you will announce
it right there in the center of that ring...
after the fight
if you don't do it now.
You are acting just like
an old Uncle Tom.
In this age of
beatification of Muhammad Ali,
we forget just how great
a fighter he was.
And I don't think it's possible to be a
great fighter unless you have a mean streak.
He had it.
Ali continues
to scream at Terrell.
He beat the hell out of those
who didn't want
to use his name.
"My name is Muhammad Ali.
What's my name?" Bam, bam, bam.
- - And that's the bell.
Ali continues his taunts.
Ali was exemplifying
a freedom...
that most black people
did not enjoy.
So that made him
loved by some and hated by others.
There's a rule in boxing.
They say this fella has a killer instinct...
or he don't have
a killer instinct.
But I call it aggressive...
aggressive instinct.
Uh, we're not out
to kill nobody.
I don't know if my conscience would
let me live if I even killed someone.
This is really war.
It is guided by North Vietnam.
Its goal is to defeat
American power.
Muhammad Ali gets a phone call.
And he runs in,
answers the phone,
comes back and he is wild.
And he tells me that he had
just been reclassified 1-A.
And another thing
I don't understand...
is why me, a man who pays the salary
of at least 50,000 men in Vietnam,
a man who the government takes six million
dollars from a year out in two fights,
a man who can pay, in two fights,
for three bomber planes,
why would you take
and seek out and be anxious...
to call me out of 30 men
who you could have called?
And I'm fighting for
the government every day.
In other words, you think they called you
only because you're the heavyweight champion...
And a Muslim too.
Ever since I've joined the Muslim religion,
I've been catching hell
from here...
Somebody said,
"So, you could be drafted...
and you're gonna go in the army
and you're gonna go to Vietnam...
and you're gonna be on
the front lines...
and you're gonna have to
kill Vietcong.
I mean, how do you feel
about all of this?"
And he said, "I ain't got
nothing against them Vietcong."
I mean, that... that was carved
in the stone facade of history.
And then later on,
it was embellished...
"I ain't got no quarrel
with them Vietcong."
"No Vietcong ever
called me nigger."
I'm asking you if you apologize for
the unpatriotic remarks that you made.
I'm not apologizing for nothing
like that because I don't have to.
I'm just apologizing for what I said
to the newspapers and to the press.
- Mr. Clay...
- Muhammad Ali, sir.
- Or Mr. Muhammad Ali, either one.
- Yes, sir. Just Muhammad Ali.
When you appeared before
this commission before,
if I recall correctly,
- you said you were the people's champion?
- Yes, sir.
Do you think that you're acting
like a people's champion?
Yes, sir.
Members of the group went to various
reserve units, uh, in the community...
to see whether or not they would
take him in in the National Guard...
or the Navy Reserve
or whatever.
They all said they would.
We felt that he would be
a Joe Louis.
Joe Louis served
and never carried a gun.
But he boxed,
wore the uniform...
and did a fine service
to his country.
I got a call and Ali said,
"If I went to war, I would probably be in
one of them boxing things like Joe Louis.
I wouldn't be really
fighting in the war."
I says, "That's not the point.
You have to understand that once
you sign your name to that army,
then you are
their slave forever.
So just say hell no,
you ain't gonna go.
Rhyme it.
Do what you do best.
Those people over there in
Vietnam did not lynch you,
did not break up your family.
Those Vietnamese people
are your brothers.
This was a wrongful war.
War is wrong. Period.
War is made from the devil."
I was sitting in my office in
Louisville and the phone rang...
and it was Angelo Dundee.
And he said the champ is gonna announce
he's gonna be a conscientious objector,
and he's not gonna
take that step forward.
And I said, "Oh."
I said, uh,
"I'll be right up there."
The conscientious objector
thing was a complete shock.
A conscientious objector,
as a matter of law,
was that if you believed that you should
not kill somebody or carry a weapon...
or participate in an activity
which would result in death,
that you did not have to serve.
I personally told him...
that this was gonna cost him
millions of dollars.
And then I went over,
chapter and verse,
the contracts that were
on my desk to be signed...
would not be offered
to him again.
If he
had not become Muhammad Ali,
he'd have been Cassius Clay,
and he would have went
into that army.
'Cause he asked me straight up.
He said, "What would you do
if you was in my shoes?"
I said, "I'd do what
Elijah Muhammad done."
He said, "What would he did?"
I said, "He went to jail."
Elijah Muhammad
went to prison for five years.
For sedition and draft dodging,
they called it.
He set the standard.
The contract with the
Louisville Sponsoring
Group was expiring.
The group...
they were disappointed,
and one or two didn't want
to be affiliated with...
It was more of the draft business
than it was the Muslim business.
Although that was part of it.
He called all members
to say thanks and shake hands,
and au revoir.
And I will say here
boldly now on television...
I will not go 10,000 miles
from here...
to help murder and kill
another poor people...
simply to continue
the domination...
of white slave masters over the
darker people of the earth.
You fight when you
have something to fight for.
But what are we fighting for?
To tell me that I'm
fighting for America...
and her way of life.
What is her way of life?
To come back home
to injustice...
with all these medals
on our chest?
Hell, no.
Mr. Muhammad Ali has just
refused to be inducted...
into the United States
Armed Forces.
Notification of his refusal is being
made to the United States Attorney...
and the local
Selective Service Board...
for whatever action
deem to be appropriate.
And so it is all over for the heavyweight
champion of the world, Muhammad Ali.
What happens now to his title?
He will doubtless
be stripped of it...
by every state boxing commission
in this country...
and by
the World Boxing Association.
All type of moves
have been made against me...
that's never been made before
in the history of boxing.
Regardless of the ultimate
disposition of his case legally,
he will no longer be
the champion.
Well, now that they've taken Cassius Clay's
title away, do you think they should have?
Well, I don't know.
I think they should, yes.
I think that any man who don't
wanna fight for his country,
I don't think he should have
the honor of being champion.
The tragedy to me is...
that Cassius has made millions of
dollars off of the American public.
And now he's not willing
to show his appreciation.
Hurts the morale of a lot of
young Negro soldiers
over in Vietnam.
You won't fight
for your country?
- You refuse to go into the...
- I'm a minister. My religion.
This country
has laws for ministers.
- Are you an ordained minister?
- By my leader.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Almighty God Allah fights battles for us.
We are forbidden
to carry anything like a weapon.
We are peaceful people.
Do you think
there's anything wrong...
in someone like Cassius Clay,
Muhammad Ali, in refusing induction?
Yes, sir, I certainly do.
- Why?
- 'Cause he's no better than the rest of us.
I got a wife and three kids
I'd like to stay here with,
but if they need me,
I reckon I'll go.
Simply because Muhammad Ali
has these beliefs,
there's no reason why people
should go against him.
It took an all-white jury
less than a half hour...
to find Muhammad Ali guilty of
all charges and specifications.
He was sentenced to the maximum
five years in prison...
and was fined $10,000.
To have a heavyweight
champion refuse to be inducted,
that was almost blasphemous.
This would mean, of course, that
you stand the chance of going to jail...
as a result of not going
into service.
Well, whatever the punishment,
whatever the persecution is for
standing up for my religious beliefs,
even if it mean facing
machine gun fire that day,
I will face it before denouncing Elijah
Muhammad and the religion of Islam.
I'm ready to die.
I was happy that this
black man, he actually stood up...
and did what a Muslim would do.
And that took a lot of balls.
And he would come into my...
He would try to, you know...
try to get to me, but he couldn't.
And he would be trying
to look for me.
But by us having
all the white unis on,
he had to try to look at your
face because he couldn't tell.
So he would always eye
at me in the mosque...
and keep his eyes and all that... you know,
flirting like.
I knew he was mine.
He was mine then.
When I find
out that's who he was gonna marry,
I jumped for joy.
It was a big
blessing to him. She was a virgin.
To marry a virgin...
I said, "Boy, you hit the jackpot."
That's what I told him.
And she was young and pretty.
Khalilah... one of a kind.
She's the female Muhammad Ali.
Sweet, kind, good lady.
He loved the fact that I stuck with
him when he didn't have anything.
I tried to keep
everything positive...
and started a family,
and that was a good thing.
I'm not having no trouble out of you.
There ain't but one
big mouth in this family.
I said, "Brother,
let me tell you something.
If you keep your body in shape and keep
your mind clear, you will win this fight."
The government fight has cost
nearly some $200,000...
plus my living expenses... my mother,
my father, my brother, my wife, my children.
Boxing commissions around the
country wouldn't sanction his fights.
I'm just about broke.
I'm not allowed to work here now in America.
I'm not allowed
to leave America.
Is there any chance
of you boxing?
I really don't know.
One day we might.
I'm not too sure.
I tried to get
him back into the ring...
and get governors to allow
him to fight in their state.
Jackson, Mississippi.
The white man told me
to get back on the airplane.
I tried Alcatraz Island.
I tried every place
that I could think of.
The only answer to the
beleaguerments of Muhammad Ali...
might be the stripped jet plane sailing
above all local jurisdictions...
with two fighters and 200 fans.
They had tried to put
a ring inside a 757.
Wilt, there's been rumors that
you are ready to fight Cassius Clay.
Are any of these rumors true?
Actually fighting
Muhammad Ali was not a rumor.
That was a plan. But right now
it's all down the drain.
We start doing
the speaking engagements.
That was the circuit
that really sustained him.
He got paid.
Black and white are
opposite of one another.
The opposite of good is bad.
The opposite of hot is cold.
In the beginning,
he was terrible.
And the opposite
of black is white.
He would go into Muslim dogma.
What is it
that the Muslims believe?
Number one, we're gonna say a few
things on what the Muslims want.
Remember, he was 12 years old...
when he committed himself
to boxing.
Suddenly, you're
in this tunnel of your talent.
You just concentrate on being this
great boxer, which he became.
You wave through so many
of the tollbooths of life.
So now suddenly, it's 1967.
He has refused to step forward.
He's 25 years old.
He's out on his own.
He's on college campuses.
He thought all these kids were
really smart kids out there.
They were going to ask him
really tough questions,
which, to a great extent,
they did.
In time of peace,
would you allow yourself to be drafted?
- Would you?
- Yes, sir.
Do you think that the United
States will eventually separate...
into two different societies,
black and white?
Well, the latest government
fact-finding committee...
said that this is
what it's coming to be...
and this is what
it's shaping up to be.
I'd like to ask you
why you're still a Muslim...
since it's a far-gone conclusion
that the Muslim... Muslims...
or two or three...
I don't know which...
did assassinate Malcolm X.
Anybody that'd
assassinate anybody...
or anybody that carry
weapons are not Muslims.
A Muslim
wouldn't carry a weapon,
and a Muslim wouldn't
assassinate nobody.
Muslims have always been
under surveillance all our lives.
You see, Elijah Muhammad has
taught us about Big Brother.
Brother Government
was always watching us...
to find anything they can to
put these Muslims down or out.
They're there
waiting for that moment.
I did a lot
of those spots with Ali.
He got exposure, being free.
And away from being coached,
I just watched him grow up
to become a man.
Well, I would say Black Power would be
the same thing to me that White Power is,
but leave out the brutality.
Like this is White Power...
your own schools,
your airports, your jet planes.
Being independent
and not dependent on others.
Building your own houses,
factories and hospitals.
I think that he's teaching the black people
to hate white, and I think that's very wrong.
I was opposed to his views
before he came here,
and I still am
opposed to his views...
because I feel
if he wants American rights,
then he should assume
responsibility of the draft.
Somebody would
come out of nowhere...
and say, "You draft-dodger
nigger, go home."
Well, he didn't
like that at all.
I said, "We have to do this
for a living, man.
Don't worry about what people say about you.
You got to keep going."
And then he'd talk back
at me and says,
"You're not out there getting embarrassed.
I'm out there getting embarrassed.
What would you do
if somebody did that to you?"
I'm not gonna help nobody get
something that Negroes don't have.
If I'm gonna die, I'll die now
right here fighting you.
You my enemy.
My enemy is the white people,
not Vietcong or Chinese or Japanese.
You my opposer
when I want freedom.
You my opposer
when I want justice.
You my opposer
when I want equality.
You won't even stand up for me in
America for my religious beliefs,
and you want me
to go somewhere and fight,
but you won't even stand up
for me here at home.
The exiled
years was the worst years...
of me and Ali's life.
In Islam we
feel like we're being attacked unjustly.
We feel like there's
a trial period for us,
and if we stand
on righteousness and truth,
God gonna bring us through it.
And that's the way I saw Ali.
I suffered with my brother. He suffered.
I suffered. We're like that.
I felt the way he felt.
I share my brother's pain.
I share his...
You got to forgive me.
I'm very emotional
when it comes to this.
He paid the price.
He did what he had to do.
He's the champ.
The country was beginning
to pull apart.
This was a time when the
ideals of rebellion were spreading.
Urban insurrections and violence were
popping out in cities across the country.
Violence is a part
of America's culture.
It is as American
as cherry pie.
America taught the black people
to be violent.
We will use that violence to rid
ourselves of oppression if necessary.
When the white race
attack the black people,
you don't ask us what's our
religion or what's our belief.
You just start whupping
black heads.
They don't say are you a Catholic,
are you a Baptist,
are you a black Muslim,
are you a Martin Luther King follower,
are you with Whitney Young.
They just go...
There is no need for us to go
anywhere and fight for democracy.
We working for our liberation,
and it's gonna be in this country.
And what we gonna say
across this country,
from Muhammad Ali to a little
black boy in Cardozo High School,
"Hell, no. We won't go."
Hell, no!
We won't go!
I'm not here to talk and
say I don't agree with Stokely.
I don't agree with Rap Brown.
We're all black people who are fighting
for freedom, justice and equality.
Everybody have their approach.
One man believe in integrating.
One day we all be white, he say.
Look like white people after 200 years.
One believes that education
and politics will solve it.
One believes shooting and looting and
burning up the country will solve it.
One man believes
integration will solve it.
And we believe separation,
somewhere to ourselves, will solve it.
You were quoted as saying on one occasion,
"All whites are devils."
- But that's not true, is it?
- Elijah Muhammad teaches us...
that God told him
that all whites are devils.
Well, God was wrong
on that occasion, wasn't he?
- You don't...
- I believe every word of it.
- But you don't actually believe that all
whites are devils. - I believe every word...
Yes, sir. I believe
everything he preach.
- I mean, I just...
- You said "all," didn't you?
- Yeah. I'm trying... - I really believe
that all white people are devils.
I'm not gonna be no phony.
I done gave up $10 million in fighting.
I'll go to jail for five years.
And you think I'm gonna get on this
TV show and deny what I believe?
- No.
- I believe every bit of it.
From my point of view,
what Elijah Muhammad is doing
to you is diseasing your mind.
And you have the nerve
to be on a TV show...
and look at me
like I'm wrong...
for saying,
Elijah Muhammad is poisoning you...
by telling you
that we're your enemies.
And I feel it
and see it every day.
And every black man watching
this show know you our enemies,
and you have the nerve
to stand up here...
and say Elijah Muhammad
is poisoning my mind.
He cannot teach us that you our enemy.
You taught us.
And Ali liked intimidating you,
pissing you off.
He loved that.
That's his comfort zone.
And when you're
in your comfort zone,
nobody in the world
can penetrate you,
and you can be
who you wanna be.
I'd like to start off by saying,
As-salaam alaikum.
Wa alaikum.
Ooh. You all...
I didn't know you all knew that up here.
Within a year of this,
he was a much more
attractive character.
And once you
find out who you are,
then you're start saying,
"I am the greatest."
To those people who think
that I lost so much...
by not taking the step,
I haven't lost one thing.
I have gained a lot.
Number one...
- - Number one,
I have gained a peace of mind.
I have gained a peace of heart.
I now know
that I'm in content...
with Almighty God himself.
And there are those who are seeking...
to equate dissent
with disloyalty.
It is my hope...
that every young man
in this country...
who finds this war objectionable
and abominable and unjust...
would file
as a conscientious objector.
And no matter what you think...
of Mr. Muhammad Ali's religion,
you certainly have
to admire his courage.
Our great leaders like
Martin Luther King, to bump him off.
And when the white man can
just bump us off like nothing,
then what chance
does the common man have?
He just don't care.
He sees no future...
because his hope,
his inspiration are wiped out like nothing.
Muhammad Ali's making statements about what
was happening in his life and his world...
in this society
in which we live,
and you gonna crucify him and take
his means to support his family away?
Oh, it was wrong.
Simple as that.
The United States leads
the Olympics in medal awards...
and is just about supreme
in the sprint races,
thanks to men like Tommie
Smith and John Carlos.
They came in first and third.
Any time they
have an Olympic Games...
or any time they do a national
anthem at a football game,
that's politics right there.
We felt that
as young individual athletes...
that we could make a significant
difference in society.
I said, "Look, Tommie,
I wanna make a statement."
"Let's put a black glove on and say
although we're proud to be Americans,
we're prouder
to be black Americans."
I had a black shirt on
to cover up my U.S.A...
because I was ashamed
of America...
the way America
has been all these years.
We have a great history
in this country.
But at the same time, we have a
history that we should be ashamed of.
The number-one statement
in my mind...
was to have Muhammad Ali vindicated
from all the nonsense, negativities...
that they try
and put around him...
and give him the right to be
the champion that he deserve.
Wanna let
the whole world know...
that we are going to pick
our heroes from today on.
And brother Tommie Smith,
brother John Carlos...
join the rank
of brother Muhammad Ali...
because we want black people who are concerned
with us first and with sports second.
- Yeah!
- Yea!
When you refused to be drafted,
do you think that it
set a mark in history...
as one black person who just
out and out refused to...
Many have done it before me,
but they were not famous cases.
And I just don't think I should
go 10,000 miles from here...
and shoot some black people
who never called me "nigger,"
never lynched me,
never put dogs on me,
never raped my mama,
enslaved me...
and deprived me of freedom,
justice and equality.
And he's black too.
I just can't shoot him.
And with this in mind, and plus
my religious beliefs too,
which is the legal reason
I'm not going,
I just can't go over there
and shoot them people...
and come back home
I'm still a nigger.
It has been said that
I have two alternatives...
either go to jail
or go to the army.
But I would like to say that
there is another alternative.
And that alternative
is justice.
I came to work
for Justice Harlan...
in the summer of 1970,
which during the term
I was there...
that the Vietnam Veterans
Against the War...
sat in on the steps
of the Supreme Court.
There was controversy...
just surrounding
every corner of life.
Black Power!
Ship all niggers back!
It was during that year that
Clay against United States...
came up to the Supreme Court.
The justices probably
thought Ali wouldn't win.
He could argue about it,
but he had a fair shot below...
when reasonable judges
had said no.
And he didn't present
any unique or unusual issues,
and so they were just gonna
let the case go away.
As they were about to announce,
the solicitor general
came in and said...
we just learned that there
was an illegal wiretap...
during which the F.B.I. overheard Muhammad
Ali talking to Reverend Martin Luther King.
We are all victims of the
same system of oppression.
And even though we may have
different religious beliefs,
this does not at all bring about a
difference in terms of our concerns.
We're still brothers.
So they just did
what was routine in those days.
We're sending this back down
to the trial judge...
to determine whether
anything needs to be done.
I didn't think it would take so long...
three and a half years...
but I did think
he would be back.
And he was always doing
something interesting.
He was in a Broadway show,
Big Time Buck White.
- - It was
wonderful and terrible.
You know, I first came here
some 400 long years ago.
Yes. Right on,
Big Time.
- I came as a first-class passenger...
- Yes!
on a cold, nasty, muddy,
wet prison of death.
- Yes! Yes!
- A slave ship.
We came in chains
- We came in misery
- Uh-huh.
Now all our suffering and
pains are part of history
Right on!
- We came in chains
- Oh, yes!
Do you feel in a way that
you're not really acting up there?
No, I'm not acting at all.
I'm real.
We may have a little music
in the background,
but everything that I do,
I look at it as being real.
Chains, chains, chains
We came in chains
Four hundred years
No justice No
freedom No equality
Worked from sunup
to sundown
1970, still in chains
Financial chains
Economical chains
Chains, chains, chains
America chains
Chains Look at these chains
a group of Atlanta blacks and whites...
managed to get Clay a license
and bring the fight to Atlanta.
No other city has done this.
We put Mr. Clay, Muhammad Ali,
back into the ring.
I don't see how
this fight could take place...
anywhere in the United States
of America...
by a man that has denounced
his country's uniform...
and refused to be inducted.
There are
no state laws in Georgia...
covering the boxing industry.
We have secured from the city of
Atlanta the boxing permit, the license.
We've covered everything.
Muhammad Ali,
or Cassius Clay, or both...
will return to the boxing ring
in Atlanta, Georgia.
Governor Maddox
does not like it.
But he can't stop it.
I've called for a day of
mourning because of this,
that this tragic thing has happened
in this United States of America...
where men have fought so long and their
wives and children have sacrificed so much.
But there are a lot of
people who feel as Governor Maddox does.
But Clay has his license
and will fight.
Your greatest trial
may not be in the ring.
It may be
with the American public,
most of whom deeply resent your stance
with regard to military induction.
Because Ali was
such a visible public figure,
Justice Brennan thought we just
can't let a case like this go...
without explaining why.
So we caught the case
on the bounce back.
The Supreme Court agreed today to review
heavyweight fighter Muhammad Ali's conviction...
for refusing induction
into the army.
Ali claims he cannot be drafted
for religious reasons,
and now the high court
will decide whether he's right.
Is your client a pacifist?
A pacifist is, uh... is...
is, uh, strict language.
A pacifist means, um...
uh, a Quaker,
one who does not engage
in any kind of violence.
It would hardly classify him
as a pacifist.
Of course there's
this incredible irony...
that you have this big, powerful
heavyweight champion of the world...
saying he's
a conscientious objector.
Justice Thurgood Marshall
recused himself from the case.
He was largely removing himself
from any case...
where the N.A.A.C.P.
Legal Defense Fund,
of which he used to be the head,
was representing a party.
The fact that Marshall
was not in the case...
meant there were
only eight justices.
So there was always the risk that
this case would come out 4-4.
If the justices vote 4-4,
the decision below is affirmed.
Ali would go to jail.
Earlier this year Ali
began retempering the steel...
that lay beneath the starchy
lecture-circuit lunches.
All this is to me is a job.
It means that I have a chance to earn
a living and take care of my family.
That's all it means to me.
In exhibitions like this,
sometimes he floated
like a butterfly in galoshes.
But there were moments
when a live youth...
broke through the rusty layers.
Many critics
say it's impossible...
for a man to be off
three years and a half...
and with a six-week notice
be in shape.
It's impossible for him to have his wind,
his timing, his speed and his legs.
People are wondering
what can I do,
and we won't know
until the pressure's put on me.
A man should be
entitled to do his job.
He was convicted of a felony,
but he's not in jail.
And as long as he's free,
he should be entitled
to make his living.
Win or lose, he's got the
appeal of his conviction to worry about...
and the possibility
of five years in prison.
When the case
was argued to the justices,
almost all the analysis
turned on the question...
of whether he was a selective
conscientious objector.
That is, he had a conscientious objection
to this war but not another one.
There is in this record
a basis, in fact,
for the conclusion...
that the
petitioner's objection,
though religious, is selective.
- As-salaam alaikum.
- Wa as-salaam.
That he is,
in fact, oppose to fighting...
what he regards
as "the white man's wars,"
although having no religious
or conscientious scruples...
against participation in war...
which would defend
the black man's interests.
The court voted 5-3
against Ali.
It was all over
but the writing.
Ali had one foot and three toes in prison.
The chief justice assigned
the opinion to Justice Harlan.
Justice Harlan... he was in very good
health, with one exception.
His eyesight was horrible.
He had had something that
was like a stroke of the eyes.
Part of the job of being Justice
Harlan's law clerk was to read to him.
And I told Justice Harlan...
I might have said it more times
than is really polite...
"When you go back and you read
The Message to the Blackman... "
Every one of you should have
this book in your study.
"and you read
The Autobiography of Malcolm X,
the Nation of Islam people
were saying...
if Allah summons us to war,
then we will go to war.
If you really took the law
literally seriously,
you cannot distinguish Jehovah's
Witnesses from the Nation of Islam...
on this particular issue."
And so we've got
legal precedent.
What the Supreme Court had said
about the Jehovah's Witnesses...
was even though
they're willing to fight...
in some hypothetical war
declared by God,
it doesn't mean that you're
not a conscientious objector.
Congress meant to exempt people
who, in good conscience,
couldn't participate in a
person-to-person bombs-and-bullets war.
"We believe that we who declare
ourselves to be righteous Muslims...
shall not participate in wars which
take the lives of human beings."
Harlan sent a memorandum
essentially saying,
"Now that I've look
more carefully at the record,
I think we
were wrong in our vote,
and I am voting
to reverse the conviction."
And now we had a problem.
How are we going to keep
staffing that war machine...
if it turns out that everybody
who joins the Nation of Islam...
gets a free pass
out of the draft?
In war, the intention is
to kill, kill, kill, kill...
and continue killing innocent people.
But there is one hell
of a lot of difference...
in fighting in the ring
and going to war in Vietnam.
From Louisville, Kentucky,
return of the champion,
Muhammad Ali.
The Quarry fight was
really exciting outside the ring.
Everybody who was
somebody came to that fight.
Cadillacs, gangster style.
Cats with minks and diamonds.
It was the fight night.
That left
jab is finding its mark.
It was a total
explosion of blackness...
from the highest levels
of civil rights...
I want to say that you're not only
our champion in the boxing area,
but you're also a champion of
justice and peace and human dignity.
Thank you.
You're the living example
of soul power.
This was the March on
Washington all in two fists.
- Thank you.
- Thank you. You're so kind.
Ali's case exposed...
how awkward
the legal system was...
and how arbitrary and capricious
it was in many respects.
Justice Stewart
dug further into the record...
and found
an obscure technical point...
on which the court
could reverse Ali's conviction.
But this ground for reversal
applied only to Muhammad Ali.
It didn't apply to anybody else.
The technicality was that the government
had denied Ali due process of law.
At the first stage
of this case,
the government had told
the Louisville draft board...
that not only was Ali
not opposed to all wars...
but that he was insincere
in claiming this.
Then when they got
to the Supreme Court,
Justice Douglas, at the very end of
the oral argument by the government,
turned to the solicitor general
and said...
"You don't question his sincerity?"
No, Mr. Justice,
we do not.
That's a denial of due process.
The government isn't allowed to
tell a judge Ali was insincere...
and the next day sincere...
in order to sustain
a conviction.
This little procedural point turning
this big case into a peewee case...
immediately got you five votes,
and other people then started
coming over to the opinion.
So the final outcome
was a unanimous victory.
They wrote a case that, insofar
as precedent is concerned...
the way I say it...
is so thin...
that if you turn it sideways,
it doesn't even cast a shadow.
The Supreme
Court ruled 8-0 today...
that Muhammad Ali
is indeed sincere...
in his Muslim beliefs
against war.
That overturns Ali's conviction
for refusing induction...
and removes the threat
of five years in jail.
When Ali heard the news,
he said, "Thanks be to Allah."
I was on 79th Street
on the south side...
and just bought me
an orange in a grocery store.
And the grocery owner came out and grabbed
me and hugged me with tears in his eyes...
a little black fella... and told me that
you've just been vindicated and you're free.
Eight judges all voted
in your favor.
Only God did it, buddy.
The God of heaven and earth,
these stars
He changed hearts.
Hit me hard.
Well, all I have to say
is what's concerning my case.
I don't know what's happening
to this moment.
I don't know who will
be assassinated tonight.
I don't know who will be
enslaved or mistreated.
I don't who will be deprived of
some other justice or equality.
Well, I think everybody's
looking for truth.
Everybody's trying
to find himself.
People sit back now
in their old age...
and reflect on the crossroads of their life.
"Did I make the right choices?"
Muhammad Ali stood fast and
never denied what he stood for.
The first time that
I understood the importance
of who my father was,
I was around three years old.
We had to be lifted out some way
of this massive crowd.
People were crying. They were on their
knees. They had their hands crossed.
In a strange sort of way,
I don't think that he
totally transcended boxing...
until he went back to boxing,
until he went back
on that platform.
This is an incredible scene.
The place is going wild.
Muhammad Ali has won!
Muhammad Ali has won!
Naturally when you're young,
you want your father
all to yourself.
My father
would go off on trips,
going to China or Libya
or wherever,
and I would cry.
He said to me one time,
"You know, Hana, I'm your daddy,
but I'm also the daddy
to the world."
And I said, "You're not my daddy.
You're Muhammad Ali."
Whenever he would leave,
he was Muhammad Ali.
I'll always gonna
be one black one...
who got big
on your white televisions,
on your white newspapers,
on your satellites...
and 100% stay with
and represent my people.
That was my purpose,
and that's why I'm happy.
I'm here, and I'm
showing the world...
that you can be here and still
free and stay yourself...
and get respect from the world.
When Elijah Muhammad died in
the decision of the leadership was to
name Wallace Muhammad, Elijah's son,
as the new leader.
We've arrived here.
The trip was successful.
He began to change the Nation to
something more akin to traditional Islam.
Less attention
to black nationalism.
Less attention to race.
Muhammad Ali became
a follower of Wallace Muhammad.
Most members
went along with them at first.
And then eventually, people
in the Nation convinced
Louis Farrakhan
to break away...
and reform Elijah Muhammad's
race-oriented version.
And that's been that way
ever since.
In the early days of the religion,
they have black separatism.
In those days,
you were the devil.
The white man was the devil.
That's right.
Ali was constantly evolving,
constantly growing...
from the narrow view...
of the Nation of Islam
in its infancy...
to the broad universal view...
of Islam
in its fullest development.
That's Ali.
I'm a Muslim,
and I'm against
killing, violence,
and all Muslims are against it.
I think the people should know
the real truth about Islam.
And I wouldn't be here
to represent Islam...
if it was really like
the terrorists made it look.
I think that all the people
should know the truth...
and come to recognize the truth
because Islam is peace.
he has made more people examine Islam.
And they find that Islam
ain't what the government...
and the enemies of Islam
trying to make it out to be.
Since 9/11,
Islam has acquired so many layers
and dimensions and textures.
When the Nation of Islam was
considered as a threatening religion,
traditional Islam was seen
as a gentle alternative.
And now quite the contrary.
The Nation of Islam is seen
as a tame domestic version...
and traditional Islam is seen
as the threatening thing.
Muhammad Ali occupies
a weird kind of place...
in that shifting
interpretation of Islam.
He'll always be
the greatest fighter ever.
But I just outgrew him.
My father's first marriage
was to Sonji Roi,
and it didn't last long,
about a year.
His second wife,
he had four kids with.
His third wife,
Veronica Porsche, my mother,
he had myself
and my sister, Laila.
And his current wife, Lonnie,
they adopted together
one child.
And my father has two children
by women he was not married to.
So there's nine of us,
and we're one big happy family...
'cause he brought us together
in the summers every year.
Probably drove my mother crazy and
everybody else crazy. We had a ball.
I see him at
certain family events.
It hurts sometimes
to look at him too long.
I can be around for a few minutes
and then I have to walk away.
But then I see
there's a good aura there.
Then I'll penetrate it
with some good memories.
And then I fall in love
with him all over again.
All the wealth
of the universe...
and all the wealth on earth
is equal to mosquitoes...
compared to what you get
in the next life.
Some who know him believe that all those
blows to the head damaged his brain,
that he is no longer
the man he was inside.
He has Parkinson's,
as the world knows.
But he's healthy otherwise.
He is happy being Muhammad Ali.
He enjoys who he is.
He's not in any pain.
He believes that everything
has a purpose and a time.
And, you know,
he's... he's happy.
When you do the right thing, man,
you will prevail at the end.
It's just a matter of you
being out there in the front...
of the people who haven't
caught up with you yet.
When he lit
the Olympic torch in '96,
I felt tears in my eyes.
The greatest of all time!
But to see him carry that,
uh, it was a big-time howdy.
It was a perfect poetic moment.
If anybody should've lit the
torch in any Olympic Games,
it should
have been Muhammad Ali.
In the '60s and '70s,
he was the most
recognizable face in the world.
We created a symbol.
Muhammad Ali has long since
been supplanted...
by what we believe he is.
One more time!
Who's the champ of the world?
Muhammad Ali!
There are so many
ways of looking at him...
that have only to do with us...
and have nothing
to do with him.
When Muhammad Ali
took that stand...
- That was a hell of a stand.
- It certainly was.
And my father was
always more than a boxer.
To me, he's the eighth
wonder of the world.
That's the one title
I'm waiting for.
Muhammad Ali...
the eighth wonder of the world.
I love you, champ.
You're my soul and my heart.
Only brother I got.
Love you.
I love you. Peace.