By Sabir Kasib Muhammad
ATLANTA, Ga. – The ritzy confines of the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead district played well as host for the premier of The Last Punch, a movie made in tribute to the great Muhammad Ali by one of his greatest fans.
Ali Muhammad is adamant about his love and respect for Muhammad Ali and years ago wrote a book chronicling the events that surrounded his promotion of Ali’s last boxing match, The Rumble in The Bahama against Trevor Berbick.
The multi-ethnic, interreligious sold out audience at the premier included several important figures in Ali’s career, including legendary Nation of Islam Minister Abdul Rahman, who accompanied Ali from the beginning of his association with Nation of Islam.
There was also former Georgia State Senator Leroy Johnson who recounted the maneuvering he had to do to overcome opposition from the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Council.
This was to obtain a license for Ali to return to the fight game with a fight stated in Atlanta with Jerry Quarry as his opponent. It was following his absence from the ring as he fought against attacks for his opposition to entering the armed services.
Those in attendance lauded Ali and Dorothea for their dedication to the project and making the film a reality. Acclaimed Director of the film, Jesse Vaughan, called the project a very important film. He said Ali Muhammad was “the most determined person I have ever met.”
The audience gave a rousing cheer at the completion of the film and a standing ovation to Ali and Dorothea that echoed a unanimous sentiment. That was that this film is a major contribution to not only the history of Muhammad Ali but also a major credit to African American film making history.
The film, which illustrates the power of the human will and its ability to overcome obstacles, is a story of the life of Ali Muhammad as a young man when he was known as James Cornelius.
His indomitable spirit is portrayed brilliantly by lead actor Tony Grant on the screen. And newcomer Karon Joseph turns in an admirable depiction as Muhammad Ali.
Look for the film in theaters nationwide soon. It is definitely a must see!
(Photos by Nassar Madyun)