Mayor Greg Fischer, Muhammad Ali and President of HBO Films Len Amato
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Muhammad Ali attended the U.S. premiere of an upcoming HBO film that debuted Wednesday in Louisville and portrays Ali's legal battle after refusing to answer his draft notice during the Vietnam War.
"Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" screened at the Ali Center, and Ali made a brief appearance beforehand.
The film uses video clips of Ali after he refused to join the military in 1967 on religious grounds. Its premiere brought daughter Laila Ali and other headliners to Louisville.
"I think that any kid who doesn't know the story of Muhammad Ali -- and not just the good times, but the bad times – is missing out," Laila Ali said. "It's definitely a story you want to hear. He's a hero."
Ali's controversial decision led the sport of boxing to take away his heavyweight title and ban him from the sport.
Ali was sentenced to prison but appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually sided with him. Writers finished the script before HBO showed it to the Ali family.
"Luckily, they liked it," said Len Amato, president of HBO Films. "But had Muhammad Ali given us notes, we would've taken them gladly."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also attended the premiere.
"This is a guy who put up with a lot of adversity and stood up for what he believed in," Fischer said. "He teaches us all to this very day."
The premiere kicked off the Ali Center's "Three Days of Greatness," which includes a second film about Ali's life.
It also includes the center's first-ever humanitarian awards ceremony on Thursday.
Former President Jimmy Carter and singers Christina Aguilera and Michael Bolton will receive awards.
"Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on HBO.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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