CLEVELAND — The Greatest. Muhammad Ali. The two are never far apart.
Ali made a few appearances in Cleveland during his boxing career, including the defense of his WBC and WBA heavyweight titles at the now-demolished Richfield Coliseum in 1975.
“I’m so fast I hit him before God gets the news,” is how our press conference film of Ali begins.
On August 9, 1972 Muhammad Ali came to Cleveland to promote an upcoming charity bout to raise money for Forest City Hospital.
According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History website, Forest City Hospital was in the Glenville neighborhood and eventually closed in 1978.
A couple of weeks after the press conference, Ali returned to town, and this time he recited a poem about fighting Joe Frazier. It is classic Ali and very entertaining.
The next day at the weigh-in, the 30-year-old Ali talked non-stop promoting the charity event as well as an upcoming rematch with Joe Frazier.
Ali fought Terry Daniels on Aug. 29, 1972. It appears for the film that Daniels wore headgear. The match has no audio.
Ali vs. Wepner
This clip begins with the arrival of Chuck Wepner, Ali’s opponent for the heavyweight championship of the world, at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
WEWS reporter Allen Davis interviewed Wepner and among the bold statements Wepner made to Davis was, “The guy can’t punch that hard to hurt me.”
Our own Nev Chandler talked to boxing legend Joe Louis about Wepner’s chances of beating Ali. Louis gave Wepner a good shot of beating Ali.
We see the ring being set up in Richfield prior to the March 24, 1975 fight.
Ali would beat Wepner but the match went into the 15th and final round when Ali knocked Wepner down and the referee stopped the fight.
According to the website Boxing-Memorabilia.com, Wepner knocked Ali down in the ninth round, which even surprised Wepner.
The Richfield fight is considered by some as the inspiration for the movie Rocky.
The third and final clip is labeled “Ali buys old Federal department store at Lee/Harvard for Muslim temple" on our old reel of film and is dated June 7, 1975
Ali talked with WEWS anchor Bill Jacocks about his upcoming fight with Joe Buckner and also about unity in the black community.
Enjoy watching an American icon…The Greatest.