Muhammad Ali Time Capsule in Long-Lost Movie


Shot on primitive black-and-white Sony, this “long-lost” home video conjoins two visits to Muhammad Ali’s training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania—dubbed “Fighter’s Heaven”—by downtown artist/Manhattan Public Access man-about-town Anton Perich and veteran schmoozer Victor Bockris. The first takes place in the fall of ’73, before Ali’s rematch with Joe Frazier. There are long stretches of watching the champ train, between which he concedes to a sit-down, reading a number of clichéd maxims to his interviewers. Their quiet courtier manner forestalls culture-clash possibilities, but lets Ali hold forth on pet topics like the perfidy of Malcolm X, the virtues of clean country living, and the evils of race-mixing. (The elder, ailing Ali has mellowed since then, visiting the ancestral home of his Irish great-grandfather.) He also guides a tour of his complex and discusses plans to paint the names of legendary prizefighters on the ring of boulders surrounding his mountaintop property, pausing, in a candid moment, to squeeze a couple shots off from a revolver without explanation. By the second visit, in ’74, the boulders have been painted, Frazier temporarily vanquished. “Rumble in the Jungle” hype has brought a crowd of tourists to Deer Lake, including the swarms of children who always seemed to fully focus Ali’s promiscuous attention. Digging these tapes up, Perich exhumes a time-capsule curio, if not buried treasure.