When Muhammad Ali died five years ago, his name was known worldwide. But it was home, to Louisville, Kentucky, where he returned.

From his death on June 3, 2016, to his funeral a week later, the Bluegrass community that raised him joined visitors from around the globe to celebrate the life and legacy of “The Greatest.” That week is the focus of the new documentary, “City of Ali.”

Running at just under an hour and a half, “City of Ali” shows the way Ali’s hometown united during his death. As the funeral procession snaked its way through the city to the cemetery, the streets were lined with admirers throwing flowers onto his hearse and shouting his name.

“He was always so excited to go back to Louisville and to see his people, because that’s where it all started,” recalled Ali’s daughter, Rasheda Ali. “He loved Louisville and Louisville loved him back.”

Rasheda Ali, who participated in the documentary, says learning of the events surrounding that week was special to her because it was during her “darkest hour.”

“Everything around this moment was just a big blur for me and my family,” she said in a Zoom interview with The Associated Press.

Ali may have been known to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but there was much more to the man. Ali used his words as effectively as he used his fists, refusing to be silenced by those who did not like what he had to say.

“My dad stood for inclusion, my dad stood for racial equality, for peace and love,” said Rasheda Ali. “Muhammad, he did not change his conviction. He stayed true to who he was.”

As one of the highest profile conscientious objectors and someone who spoke out against racial inequality, Ali remains a symbol of resistance and strength to many in Louisville.

“I definitely don’t think you can be Black in America and not be inspired by Muhammad Ali,” said Phelix Crittenden, a community organizer for Blacks Organizing Strategic Success (BOSS).

Crittenden said meeting Ali, though briefly, left an impact.

“He told my parents to watch out for me because I was going to be somebody,” Crittenden said. “I would hope that I’m proving him right and serving him justice by getting into this realm of uplifting marginalized voices.”

Though he was admired by so many, Louisville-based politician Charles Booker says Ali’s relationship with the city was nuanced.

“He would not back away from the tough conversations and I don’t believe the city always embraced him because he was going to call things out,” Booker said. “Louisville has been, and still is, one of the more segregated cities in the country, and the structural challenges that we face that led him to be such a big and critical mouthpiece for a lot of folks that don’t get heard, we’re still battling those things.”

Just last summer, Louisville made headlines after the killing of Breonna Taylor. Protests within the city and nationwide called for an investigation into the officers involved in the shooting.

“I definitely feel that people are starting to wake up,” said Crittenden, who was involved in the protests.

Crittenden feels optimistic, despite the fact that some of the same protests that were happening the year Ali died are still occurring.

“As a trans person, my life is always in danger,” Crittenden said. “I feel I was fortunate enough to be able to navigate that place where I can turn my anger into activism.”

“The film reminded all of us of the importance of unity,” said Laura Douglas, the museum’s interim president and CEO. “It reminded us that it was something that was achievable, that we had done it before, and it caused us to think about replicating it again.”

“City of Ali” is also available for streaming through Abramorama’s Watch Now (at) Home Cinema Release.

OLYMPICS

SKATING: A former Olympic figure skater has been arrested on charges that he ripped off a program to help struggling small businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

Luka Klasinc, a 48-year-old Slovenian man, was arrested Monday and awaited an appearance in Manhattan federal court. A message seeking comment was left with his lawyer.

He was charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Klasinc used false documents to try to get over $1 million in aid for his event management company, which he said stages major ice-themed amusement park style events worldwide.

“At a time when U.S. small businesses were struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Klasinc thought he could scam his way to easy money,” Strauss said.
“His plans have been put on ice. He will now be held accountable for his alleged brazen lies,” she added.

Klasinc, who finished 26th at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, was charged with trying to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans program.

BASEBALL: Australia’s Olympic baseball team has given up trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games because of coronavirus-related travel complications.

Baseball Australia’s chief executive Glenn Williams said the “gut-wrenching” decision to withdraw makes Olympic qualification impossible. The final qualifying tournament on June 22-26 was initially due to be hosted by Taiwan but late last month it was moved to Puebla, Mexico.

“Attending the final Olympic qualifier in a COVID world was always going to present significant challenges,” Williams said. “The planning for Taiwan was extensive and with the late change in location and dates, those plans became obsolete.

“We worked through multiple options and scenarios but the logistical challenges of providing a safe environment for the group were insurmountable.”

COLLEGES

GONZAGA: Gonzaga promoted Chris Standiford to director of athletics following the announcement that Mike Roth is retiring at the end of August after 24 years of leading the Bulldogs’ sports programs.

Standiford has been a member of the Gonzaga staff for 31 years and currently is the deputy director of athletics, the school said in a statement. Roth announced Monday that he would retire.

TRACK & FIELD: John McDonnell, the track and field coach who set a gold standard for excellence at Arkansas during his 36 years at the school, has died. He was 82.

He died Monday night, according to a family statement released by the university. A cause was not given.

McDonnell’s men’s teams produced 40 NCAA championships at Arkansas. Under him, the Razorbacks were a perennial power in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field. His teams won six national triple crowns, 12 consecutive NCAA indoor titles from 1984-95 and 83 conference titles.

GOLF

U.S. OPEN QUALIFYING: Rickie Fowler came up just short – one roll of the ball – in his last shot at avoiding sitting out another major when he failed to get through U.S. Open qualifying at Columbus, Ohio.

Fowler had five holes to play in the rain-delayed qualifier at Brookside and The Lakes, and he needed three birdies. From over the back of the 18th green, his chip was about a full turn short before peeling away to the right.

That left him one shot out of the 5-for-4 playoff for the remaining spots to the U.S. Open next week at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Chez Reavie and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa led the way in Ohio, the largest of nine U.S. Open qualifiers across the country because of so many PGA Tour players in the field.

A pair of Walker Cup players from Texas, Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody, were part of the five-way playoff. Hammer was the odd man out, making bogey on the second extra hole to be first alternate.

Fowler, who shot 66, stuck around The Lakes to take part in a 12-man playoff for one spot to determine who would be the second alternate from Ohio, even though that player was virtually certain not to get into the U.S. Open.

Former major champions Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner were among those who joined Fowler at 5-under 139, one stroke short.

SOCCER

U.S. MEN: Goalkeeper Zack Steffen will miss the United States’ exhibition against Costa Rica on Wednesday night with a bone bruise on his left knee.

Steffen left the United States’ CONCACAF Nations League final against Mexico on Sunday night with the score 1-1 in the 69th minute.

U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter said Steffen will need a recovery time of about 10 days.

Steffen is the backup goalkeeper to Ederson at Manchester City.

Ethan Horvath of Club Brugge replaced Steffen and saved Andres Guardado’s penalty kick in the 124th minute as the U.S. won 3-2 in extra time.

In addition, Berhalter said defender Bryan Reynolds will miss the Costa Rica match because of a bone bruise on his left knee. Reynolds did not play against Mexico or in last week’s semifinal against Honduras.

Defender Matt Miazga left camp ahead of his wedding next week and will be replaced by Walker Zimmerman.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.