“The fact that Ali was born in Louisville, came of age there as a boxer and never abandoned his hometown for one of the fancier ‘Coast’ cities like New York or Los Angeles always impressed me….Ali’s funeral procession and his sold-out arena memorial service had an almost presidential aura to them. After talking with Mayor Fischer and director Graham Shelby, I knew I had to be involved,” McHugh stated.
The film explores Ali’s lifelong relationship with his hometown through candid interviews with family, friends, historians like Doris Goodwin Kearns, boxer Evander Holyfield, and sportscasters like ESPN’s Hannah Storm amongst others. Often heralded as “The Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century,” Ali was an inspiration to the world, not only for his athletic accomplishments, but in his fight against racial injustice and all forms of hatred and prejudice.
Muhammad Ali’s passing on June 3, 2016 came during a bitter U.S. presidential election, a proposed Muslim ban, and the global expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement. On the day of Ali’s funeral procession, more than 100,000 people lined the streets of Louisville to celebrate his life. Over one billion people worldwide tuned in to events, including Ali’s memorial.
McHugh notes that the “film mostly focuses on (Ali’s) origin story and his final chapter of being laid to rest in his hometown. Louisville is great vibe city much like New Orleans. The two cities share the Fleur De Lis as their symbol and the people and culture are very similar.” McHugh adds that he is excited to screen the film in his favorite city New Orleans, at Tulane, where his WTUL experience started the journey that led him to music and film career.