Project Synopsis Genre: Documentary Running time: 73 minutes Logline: An unusual group came together in the most unlikely location to relaunch the career of The GOAT.
The year is 1970. It has been three and a half years since Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title. Convicted of draft evasion. Threatened with imprisonment. Banned In all 50 states, he is unable to work in the field for which he had no equal. The wide door on his illustrious career seemed to be dwindling to a quite close. But in Atlanta, Georgia, an astute white businessman, a visionary black senator, and a progressive Jewish mayor, came together to make it possible for Ali to resume his amazing boxing career..
Muhammad Ali's stance against the war in Vietnam and America's injustice towards blacks has cost him his heavy weight title, millions of dollars in potential earnings, and possibly his freedom.
More than 60 attempts over three years to return him to the boxing ring have all ended in disaster. But in 1970, in Atlanta, Georgia, a window of opportunity opens. Sam Massell. Atlanta's first Jewish mayor meets with Senator Leroy Johnson, the first black Georgia senator in 92 years, and Jesse Hill and agrees to grant permission for Ali to fight in the city.
GETTING THE LICENSE
Senator Johnson's meeting with Mayor Massell comes on the heels of a call he received from Harry Pett, the father-in-law of Brooklyn, New York attorney turned promoter, Robert Kassel. Upon reviewing the statue in the state of Georgia, Senator Johnson discovers that there were no laws governing professional boxing in the entire state of Georgia. He hurrys to obtain a licensed for Ali to fight
Senator Leroy Johnson later meets with with Governor Lester Maddox to obtain his approval for the fight. Known to have close ties to the Ku Klux Klan, Governor Maddox was initially convinced to support the fight being staged in Atlanta. But by the very next day changed his mind and became an outspoken critic in his opposition to Ali fighting in Georgia. However, in the state of Georgia it is the leadership of the individual municipalities that have the final say.And the fight is still on.
The Night of the Fight A star studded group of Hollywood and New York celebrities descended upon Atlanta on October 26, 1970. This event was only matched by a night at the Oscars. One observer of this evening commented: “Never before have more collective black wealth been assembled in one place for this one night...” The Fight Jerry Quarry was a fearsome foe. Three years younger than Ali with a stellar boxing record, many questioned whether Ali would survive 15 rounds with him. Once the fight began Ali soon took control. The fight lasted for all of three rounds. A gaping cut above Quarry's left eye caused the referee to stop the fight. Ali won by a TKO.
The "After Party" Multiple after parties were held in hotels and at lavish homes across Atlanta. One particular party held at a home in an upscale community of Atlanta invited happy guest looking to party down. However, once inside they found themselves the unwitting pawns of an elaborate shakedown. Each individual and/or group were escorted to the basement where they were promptly relieved of their cash, jewelry, and furs. Guests were ordered to completely undress and remain in the basement. Police reports the following morning revealed that the thieves had gotten away with a heist the sum of over $100,000. However the accurate sum was closer $400,000.
THE AFTERMATH AND DESTINY
Ali's Comeback is a film that tells about the little known politicians and businessmen who navigated a circuitous and challenging path to bring the world's greatest athlete back into the realm of boxing. Once the spark began, it led to the memorable matches between Ali and Joe Fraser in Madison Square Garden, and later The Thrilla in Manila; and culminating with the Ali-George Foreman Rumble in the Jungle fight in Zaire, Africa. These events further catapulted Muhammad Ali onto the world stage. His name, to this day, is celebrated around the globe as the unparalleled athlete of any sport. Subsequently, Ali'scomeback fight helped raise the profile of Atlanta as the flagship city of the new South. The spotlight and visibility also opened the floodgates to a host of newcomers seeking to make Atlanta, Georgia their home.