Back in the day, he was Cassius Clay, a handsome and sharp young boxer with a smart mouth and a knack for showmanship. He had won the light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics, but he hungered for a new title -- Sonny Listons world heavyweight championship, to be specific. Clay moved to the Magic City in search of reinvention, and he found it, all right. Shortly after coming here in 1960, the boyish Clay morphed into the man called Muhammad Ali, and courted controversy by contemplating conversion to Islam and hobnobbing with the likes of Malcolm X.
Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami is directed by local journalists Alan Tomlinson and Gaspar Gonzalez (the latter formerly of this very paper). The film captures those heady days when boxing was still celebrated as a noble sport, when showmanship and sportsmanlike joshing were still new to the ring. Ali found inspiration in the wrestling circuits bravado, and drummed up attention for his 1964 bout by calling Liston an ugly bear, among other endearing phrases. Alis time in Miami in the early Sixties not only gave him the push he needed as an athlete, but also helped make him a star. Lucky locals will get to enjoy this astonishing WLRN-TV documentary months before it airs nationally. Itll be screened on local PBS stations beginning November 19. Tonight at 7:00, you can catch Ali floating like a butterfly on the big screen at the Byron Carlyle Theater, 500 71st St., Miami Beach. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Contact Margarette Adam at 305-995-2260, or visit ali.wlrn.org to RSVP.
Nov. 16-19, 2007