Glazer: Still the Greatest; My Time With & Thoughts About Ali

About a year ago Hearne wrote about me doing a second documentary on Muhammad Ali.

In my opinion, Ali is the most famous athlete of all time. Maybe the most famous man in America across the world in the last century. Much of this fame was because he’s about the only person of note known and respected in every nation on this planet.

Alas, the years have not been kind to this boxing hero.

Still there are few who wouldn’t rank Ali as the best fighter of all time. He always thought so, didn’t he?

So as this giant legend’s life grows ever closer to its end, I thought it only fitting to say one more time how much I loved who he was and still is, THE GREATEST.

It’s my feeling that Ali created in many ways the style and swagger of today’s professional sports figures. We all know his now household lines: "I am the Greatest"  "Float like a butterfly sting like a bee…Rumble young man rumble." 

And he delivered them so well.

Yet like all of us, his road to the top was full of hurdles and hatred He too had his moments in time with booze, dope and too many woman. Ali had several failed marriages over his long boxing career. I think what I liked most about him was his ability to get back on his feet after the world dealt him a devastating blow. His indictment for not going into the army cost him nearly four years in the ring, it also left him broke. It was at that time he found that his religious group and its leaders didn’t really care so much about him when he was down and out.

As a young boy, at first, like many young white men, I didn’t care for his bragging.

I was hoping Floyd Patterson or Ernie Terrell would pound him down. I was a big Sonny Liston fan until Ali, then Cassius Clay, knocked him out. Ali said he was handsome, even pretty and nobody could beat him.  As time went on, he called the round he would win his fights in. Early in his career as Champ, this all came true.

Then everyone, it seemed, fell in love with Ali’s conceit and talent. He was really the first black man to rule the entertainment world.

I first saw him even briefly – met him at Kemper Arena here in Kansas City – just after he won back his title in the biggest sports upset of all time by knocking out George Foreman. Ali did an exhibition at Kemper.

I remember he made of fun of the Chiefs Head Coach in attendance, Hank Stram.

He signed autographs and shook hands with all his fans, even me. I never dreamed I would one day work with him, interview him and make not one but two films on his life. CHAMPIONS FOREVER in 1990 and CHAMPIONS FOREVER ALI, THE DEFINITIVE VERSION with my interviews with Ali in 2010.

It was maybe one of highlights of my life at the time, still is.

Odd I got the chance to do all this believe it or not because I was in PRISON.

It’s too long of a story, but I met the man who would finance the film at Lompoc Prison Camp in 1988. His name was Tom Blackburn. We became friends, he was a wealthy Texan who had lived in Hollywood and invested in a designer drug legal at the time called Ecstasy Tom brought in a boatload from Germany. He was near 60 at the time.

He had tried the sex drug and loved it.

Later it was made illegal and he still sold what was left, thus the federal indictment. Tom did a couple years for the mistake. A big, kind man, he came to camp in a Rolls Royce. A hard guy to miss at the time.

Tom was later placed in my halfway house in LA. He brought me to the set of Champions Forever at MGM studios in 1989. I knew all Ali’s fights, the other producers didn’t. Also starring in the movie was Ken Norton, George Foreman, Larry Holmes and of course Joe Frazier.

They hired Reggie Jackson to do the interviews. The movie covered all five of their lives, their fights, and their stories. To this day it is hailed as one of the greatest sports films of all time. Still a top 10 seller around the world. Still on Amazon.com and in most stores that sell DVDs.

I was only a co-producer, but I worked my ass off on this film.

I had no idea it would lead to my best days in Hollywood. I became known as a sports producer and got to do a couple other sports Doc’s. All called Champions Forever. Even did one on auto racing, something I knew little about.

Ali made all of us step up a bit, didn’t he?

He started the big salaries in sports, gave hope to the world that anyone who believes enough in themselves can make it in some way. Never give up. He, like all of us, made many mistakes but in the end he was a winner.

I cried when Joe Frazier beat Ali in their first fight, THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY. I couldn’t believe my unbeatable hero could lose. But brother, what a comeback. He fought in the last great era of boxing – the 60’s through the early 80’s.

When I met Ali during the filming in Vegas and LA, he was everything I’d hoped he would be.

Mostly he was kind and caring to all. Yes, even his onetime enemy Joe Frazier, who still kinda hated Ali (you can see that in the movie). Years after the film, I hung out with Joe and his daughter in LA. He too was a pretty good guy. They all were.

The movie brought them back together and was the beginning of Ali’s financial comeback. When we shot it they were all hurting for money, except for Holmes. Ali used the film to get back into the limelight and today with his wife Loni is very wealthy.

Still proud, still the greatest.

Yes, he is very ill but he’s handled that with grace and greatness as well. There may never be another like him.

When his last day comes I will surely shed tears. I love the man. I hope many of you do as well.

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20 Responses to Glazer: Still the Greatest; My Time With & Thoughts About Ali

  1. Conrad says:

    I have always been an Ali fan
    Nice story Glazer. I knew you did a movie on him, but not the story or the other films. Thanks for the memory reminders.

  2. Herb the killer says:

    Another Project from the Mob
    Figures an Ali film financed by a guy from the joint who made millions in the drug business and he hires you to make the movie. I must have wasted my time in college.

  3. Joel says:

    You Can’t Win for Losing Craig
    Wonderful movie. I used to box a little. Fought Gary Shull once. Boy even on this subject some poeple have to get on your ass. Too bad.

  4. Rob says:

    Ali Lives
    Good comment Joel. Can’t believe Ali is still with us, great man.

  5. Tommy Morrison says:

    I am the greatest
    I’m the best, not ali. Always was.

  6. chuck says:

    Hey Joel, remember when Gary Shull beat up the bear.
    What a crazy fuck!

    I boxed in the service, but I wouldn’t get in the fuckin ring with Gary Shull with Suge Knight and a shotgun for a bodyguard.

    BTW, great story, Craig, I met Ali at, wait for it, yep Dirty Sally’s on the Plaza. He came in and danced with his wife, was there for about an hour. I had a beer with Jack Harry (He is shorter than I am, and I am short.), nice guy at the time.

    Here is something funny, at least to me, he couldn’t dance. Seriously, Ali looked like shit on the dance floor.

    What can I tell ya…

  7. Kerouac says:

    ROCKY MARCIANO BEAT HIM LIKE A DRUM
    on the CPU & would same via Everlast. The UNDEFEATED Heavyweight Champion of the World… the one & only ‘Rock’. Computer match late 60’s was the closest clay ever got to beating Marciano (they filmed a few different finishes just so cc’s fans [ both of them- him & his momma ] wouldn’t shed copious tears.

    cc was one of the best ever in retrospect but in addition to Marciano I would also rank Joe Louis ahead of the louisville lip (still recall too how clay among others was a proponent in the 1960’s of negroes getting their own territory or state(s) here in the US- believe he had his eye on Arizona / other.

    Opinions vary but mine doesn’t: I miss the 60’s, and the 50’s, and…

    (postscript) Still believe Liston took at least one dive, maybe two.

  8. Kellys man says:

    I Still Hate You Glazer, but Ali and You Pretty Cool
    Ok this doens’t mean I like you any better. But fair is ok, fair. I bought this recent Ali movie, Champions Forever Ali, for my brother, he loves boxing. Christ there you were interviewing Ali, looked at least ten years ago, not sure. Good interview, then I saw you produced it. For the love of god, a guy like you gets to do that, just not fair.

  9. Joe Cornia says:

    Great Boxing Movie
    Hey Glazer, bought it on Amazon.com in December for a Christmas gift, in fact I got two of your movies one also on Duran, Latin Legends, good stuff. I watched them and then gave them to a family member, well done sir.

  10. Toco Time says:

    I saw you produced these films
    Hey how did you go from a co producer to producer on these movies? I am curious, I’d like to produce a sports film on soccor. Any tips.

  11. Gordon Gecko says:

    Now That was different
    Nice switch up Glazer. I knew little of your involvement with these movies before.

  12. harley says:

    ONCE IN A WHILE
    we see a public figure who transcends his persona. Seeing in person Ali at the Olympics was probably
    one of the coolest sports events i’ve ever seen.
    Been to 2 super bowls… 5 world series…many nascars…but nothing equaled the appearance
    of ali at the lighting ceremony.
    The man is incredible. He came from nothing and rose up. He is probably one of themost
    recognized athletes in the world…even by a generation who never saw him fight.
    He appeared about 6 years on a show about angels (can’t remember the name of the show)….
    and showed up to train a young kid. Black actress with him…think it was Touched by an angel…
    but the show was so neat because he showed up out of the blue.
    and the involvement he’s had in multiple charities over the last 20 years.
    He was the greatest…..more so because of the class and style he lived his life with while so
    many others went down the wrong road……..
    Havent seen the video…but i shure will be getting it.

  13. Tony Tubbs says:

    Didn’t know you had any black friends
    Would Ali be allowed in Westport or P&L?

  14. Black Guys says:

    Yeah Would He be Profiled Too
    You better make sure the cops profile his ass Glazer.

  15. harley says:

    addendum to last comment
    It was touched by an angel starring Della Reese. Ali shows up to explain thru the angels
    that the young child has to fight for family.
    The ending is incredible when the angels (Andrew) shows up and tells the childs
    father that the angels will be watching him and his son.
    Great show.
    Ali believe in non violence and lost his career becuase he refused to kill another
    human being.
    don’t we all wish that more people had that same idea about their own lives.

  16. Jenifer B says:

    Sad Story
    Hey Craigie, sorry long time no see. Need to come up to the club. think I will come see Jeffries. Its so tragic that Ali had to live his life after boxing as a cripple in so many ways. He deserved better. Take care.

  17. Black Barbie says:

    Please Cut It Out on Dare! Please!
    Craig I said a couple nice things on you last week. What do you and that god dam dare do to me, make more talk and stories on the radio. I told you my boyfriend listens and gets pissed off with me on it. Dont you two have someone better to joke about? I am trying to make a livin without your damn ass. If you cared so much bout me you should have stayed wit me mf bitch.

  18. Kellys man says:

    Did you try to sting Ali
    Bet you were scared to sting Ali, huh? See you aren’t so brave.

  19. dwfree1 says:

    ALI
    Funny stuff, “must of wasted my time in college”

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