Ross Whitaker’s film tells the story of one of the more unlikely chapters in Ali’s swirling kaleidoscope of a life, a yarn conceived in a London pub run by an Irish publicity merchant called Butty Sugrue who at the time was most famous as a loincloth-clad strongman. It’s chaotic, fantastical and wholly implausible from curtain-up to credits. Yet it happened.
The cast of characters is rich and deep even without Ali. Sugrue is a quintessentially Irish chancer, full of schemes and dreams of ways to turn a pound. Lewis is an ex-con whose life sentence for murder was cut short to six years after he saved the life of his prison warden during a riot. Rock Brynner is the son of Yul, a worldly gadabout who showed Ali around Dublin having put down some years of high-minded lollygagging in Trinity College. Eddie Keher stars in the documentary, which also features some of the last interviews done by the late George Kimball and Cathal O’Shannon.
But through it all, Ali is the planet and everyone else is a satellite. In 1972, he was 30 and was just over 12 months removed from the first Frazier fight, which he’d lost. Sugrue put up £300,000 and got him to Ireland through Harold Conrad, a sportswriter-turned-Svengali straight out of the pages of Damon Runyon. But although Ali owned just about the most famous face on the planet and despite the fact that the ringside seats were filled with the likes of Peter O’Toole and Ronald Reagan, tickets for the fight proved a desperately tough sell. The Irish Times
* Director will attend
Director: Ross Whitaker
Producers: Aideen O’Sullivan, Ross Whitaker
Cinematography: Brian Moore, Michael O’Donovan, Alex Sapienza, Chris Yacoubian
Editor: John Murphy
Production: True Films
Print Source: True Films – firstname.lastname@example.org
• Best Sports Documentary IFT Awards 2013
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