Many MMT subscribers would be surprised to know that I am a huge boxing fan and have been from a very young age. I haven’t indulged in the sport as much in recent years, because I believe the sport has changed a lot since I was a young adult even, but I still enjoy a good bout when I’m able to watch one without it costing an arm and a leg (glad I didn’t pay for last weekend’s Tyson vs. Jones match, although I missed that infamous undercard moment!).
And “The Greatest of All Time” Mr. Muhammad Ali is a big part of my fascination with boxing and also contributed to my love of both film and movie soundtracks via his 1977 biopic “The Greatest,” and its soundtrack of the same name produced by the legendary, late songwriter/composer Michael Masser – with the titular track sung first by George Benson, made uber popular by Whitney Houston, and penned by the late Philadelphia lyricist Ms. Linda Creed.
So, it was my absolute pleasure to both screen the newly released ALI’S COMEBACK: THE UNTOLD STORY and interview his former wife of 10 years, Dr. Khalilah Camacho Ali, who graciously shared her experiences, and other thoughts, with “The Greatest” during the 3 and 1/2 year period he fought to return to the ring after losing his boxing license.
The documentary highlights Ali’s conscientious objection to being drafted into the war in Vietnam, the fallout behind his action, and the journey and key players that led to the famous Ali vs. Quarry fight, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 26th of this year.
Occurring in part because Atlanta, GA didn’t have a boxing commission to deal with like other states, the fight was truly a multiplayer effort to bring forth – with unsung heroes like then GA state senator Leroy Johnson, Julian Bond and attorney/boxing promoter Robert Kassel, to name a few, overcoming major obstacles to assist Mr. Ali in his quest to enter the ring and reclaim his title.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the support of the “Bellflower Bomber” himself, the late Mr. Jerry Quarry – whom Dr. Camacho Ali refers to as a vocal supporter of allowing Ali back in the ring, and of whom Ali himself said, “Quarry was tricky, he hit hard and if it wasn’t for my speed it wouldn’t have ended the way it did.”
Examining this period through its social and political climate, including benchmarks in the Civil Rights movement, the documentary provides a closer look and a more thorough explanation of Ali’s descent and the victorious comeback that was attended by dignitaries and celebrities alike – including Diana Ross, Miles Davis, Barbra Streisand and Sammy Davis Jr.
It’s a nostalgic piece that spotlights not only Ali’s victory of obtaining his license to fight, but also the celebratory atmosphere, fashion and attitudes of the African American community in Atlanta during that time – as well as the infamous “afterparty” that was a cover-up for a major robbery on the same night as the fight.
With insight from sports historian Idy Uyoe, “World’s Fastest Humanitarian” and former Olympian/activist Dr. John Carlos, cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and more, Ali’s Comeback is an educational, reflective, and entertaining look back at one of the most significant events in boxing history – albeit more educational than entertaining at times.
I highly recommend a viewing, you don’t have to be a boxing fan to enjoy, and rate it 4 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
You can watch the film’s trailer below as well as my interview with Dr. Camacho Ali.
ALI’S COMEBACK: THE UNTOLD STORY is available on VOD December 1. Visit aliscomebackllc.com for additional information and to find out where to stream.
Until next thought, Thomasena