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Ali Movie Script

Writer(s) : Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Eric Roth, Michael Mann

Genres : Drama

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                                  ALI

          
          
                               Written by
          
                Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, 
 
                         Eric Roth & Michael Mann

          
          
                                Story by
          
                         Gregory Allen Howard


          
                                                        FADE IN:
          
          EXT. MIAMI STREET - MOVEMENT - NIGHT (1964)
          
          in the dark. Coming toward us. Up and down in sync to an
          INSTRUMENTAL LEAD-IN from somewhere. A slip of light. A
          glimpse of somebody in shadow under a sweatshirt hood,
          staring at us, in and out of the dark as...
          
          INT. THE STAGE, HAMPTON HOUSE CLUB - EMPTY FRAME - NIGHT
          
          A man walks into the shot, grabs a microphone, slips out of
          his jacket and looks at us. He wants to tell us something.
          He's in a lavender light. This is SAM COOKE. What he calls
          out...a throaty mixture of gospel, soul and sex...is "Let me
          hear it!" And WOMEN SHRIEK. He says, "Yeah!" They answer,
          shrieking, "Oh, yeah!"...
          
          EXT. MIAMI STREET - HOODED MAN'S FACE - NIGHT
          
          up and down, running along a dark road in the dead of night,
          passing vacant lots with debris amid trees and faded
          buildings. He is CASSIUS CLAY. He runs in construction
          boots. His eyes stare from under the hood. He passes the
          husk of an abandoned car, a pastel storefront. We're in
          Overtown, Miami's inner-city black neighborhood.
          
          INT. THE STAGE, HAMPTON HOUSE CLUB (MIAMI) - SAM COOKE
          
          shouts, "Don't fight it! We gonna feel it!"     The women in
          the audience answer: "Gotta feel it!"
          
          EXT. MIAMI STREET - CASSIUS - NIGHT
          
          now runs diagonally across NW 7th INTERCUT with Cooke
          shouting, "Yeah!"
          EXT. MACARTHUR CAUSEWAY - CASSIUS - NIGHT
          
                               SAM COOKE'S AUDIENCE (O.S.)
                   Oh, yeah!
          
          Cassius runs toward us. Off to the side in the black-
          mirrored water of Biscayne Bay, leaden clouds in a black sky.
          And now Sam Cooke SINGS "...because you make me wanna
          mooove...!" and breaks into the first verse of "Feel It."
          But we see Cassius' eyes are FOCUSED, CONCENTRATED,
          ELSEWHERE. To where is this man running? Why is his
          expression so distant? A WHITE LIGHT suddenly hits him from
          behind. He looks over at...
          
                                                                        2.
          
          WIDE FROM THE FRONT:      CASSIUS + A METRO-DADE POLICE CAR
          
          that's slowed, clocking the suspicious, running black man.
          The driver starts to pull over, to hassle Cassius. Then,
          the cop riding shotgun gets a radio call. He taps the
          driver's shoulder. They take off, the driver laughing.
          Cassius looks after the white cops. He is neither relieved
          nor angry. He's dismissive. And, instead, he sees
          something else...
          
          INT. A BOARD ROOM - GORDON DAVIDSON - DAY
          
          and six other patrician, white business-people of Louisville
          in their green baize and wood-paneled Luxo boardroom. They
          speak soundlessly and patronizingly to Cassius Clay, Sr.,
          seated at the foot of the table. It relates to the stack of
          contracts in front of him. He is in a suit and tie, his
          hair and moustache are dapper. His tie's a little loud. He
          has his hands folded deferentially in front of him.
          
                               LSG BOARD MEMBER
                         (reading)
                     "...the successor trustee shall be
                     fully authorized to pay or disperse
                     such sums from the income or
                     principal as may be required."
                         (beat)
                     Do you understand so far, Mr. Clay?
          
                               CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                     Uh, yes, I do.
          
          We get the impression that, if he doesn't understand what
          he's being told, he's faking it. He is conforming,
          delivering socially mandated deference...
          
          FRONTAL:   CASSIUS, SR.
          
          and BEYOND HIM, seated against the wall, is Cassius, Jr. in
          sport jacket and tie. Right now he looks to his left and to
          the right, and only then do we notice the entire wall he's
          against is covered with pictures of thoroughbreds and studs
          this Louisville Sponsoring Group owns as well. He is one
          among their sporting possessions. He doesn't like it. He
          looks at the back of his father listening.
          
                               LSG BOARD MEMBER
                     Are you sure, sir?
          
                                CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                     Yeah.   I follow you.
          
                                                                        3.
          
                             LSG BOARD MEMBER
                   Okay. 'Cause I'd be happy to
                   explain any of these terms.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   No, thank you.
          
                             LSG BOARD MEMBER
                   Thank you, sir.
          
          EXT. MACARTHUR CAUSEWAY - CLOSER:   CASSIUS' EYES - NIGHT
          
          back here, now, crossing through black night and over black
          water of the MacArthur Causeway. We start to HEAR pop pop
          pop pop pop pop POP over Sam Cooke's music, and Sam Cooke's
          image SUPERIMPOSES as he segues from "Feelin'" to "Bring It
          On Home." And the pop pop pop pop pop carries us into...
          
          INT. THE FIFTH STREET GYM, (MIAMI) - SPEED BAG - DAWN
          
          Cassius' fists fly in a reeling motion, hitting the speed
          bag. But it's his eyes that arrest us...focused, concentrated.
          
          OVER CASSIUS' SHOULDER:   BROWN SPEED BAG
          
          is a blur. And it SLOWS and becomes a brown boxing glove
          driving in a SLOWED straight line right at us like a piston.
          OVER the glove, pushing the fist at us is SONNY LISTON. The
          brown glove hits...
          
          INT. RING - A BOXER (N.D. BOXER)
          
          in a linear left jab. These punches are watched by Cassius'
          eyes in the Fifth Street Gym...studiously studying Liston's
          feet...straight-line movement...the jab, linear and straight
          at us. But it SLAMS into the Boxer, not Cassius. Down he
          goes. He's out. The referee pulls out his mouthpiece.
          It's a bloody mess. Teeth have been knocked out with it, so
          devastating is Sonny Liston... A distant crowd ROARS.
          
          INT. RING - CASSIUS - NIGHT
          
          VERY CLOSE, climbs into the crush with other contenders.
          Victorious, Liston, being escorted out, passes very close to
          him on purpose to say...
          
                             SONNY LISTON
                       (whispers; low)
                   Gonna fuck you up. Gonna beat you
                   like I's your daddy...
          
          To Cassius, boxing is dangerous athletics, but Liston's
          malevolence is straight from the street.
          
                                                                        4.
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - CASSIUS' EYES
          
          SEE...
          
          INT. CHURCH - THE BACK OF HIS FATHER'S HEAD
          
          working. He's painting a mural. It's the face of WHITE
          JESUS with blue eyes and blonde hair. CASSIUS, SR.'S EYES
          painting... EYES OF 12-YEAR-OLD CASSIUS, JR. watching white
          Jesus go up on the Negro Baptist Church in Louisville become...
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - CASSIUS' EYES
          
          watching now...
          
          INT. A CITY BUS - WATCHING - DAY
          the back of his own head moving through a tunnel of white
          faces, holding his mother's hand, passing the balloon faces
          of nice white passengers, teenagers in athletic sweaters
          going to high school, some children, all seated. MOVING
          through to the rear of the bus where, standing, are black
          women, heavyset with heavy legs, and middle-aged black men
          with large, rough hands, crowded on their way to the day's
          labor or domestic jobs in the back of the bus.
          
          12-YEAR-OLD CASSIUS LOOKS
          
          at a newspaper being refolded by one man in front of his face...
          
          CASSIUS' POV:     LOUISVILLE COURIER:   EMMETT TILL
          
          Published nationwide, it shows his gouged-out eye, the
          barbed wire noose around his neck, the mutilation to his
          face because at 14 years old he winked at a white girl in
          Alabama.
          CASSIUS, JR.
          
          is frozen by the image. It will haunt him for most of his
          life. The man holding the paper sees the boy's fear and
          pushes the paper out at him as a rough joke. Cassius reacts.
          Then, the man rises and offers his seat to Odessa. Then
          someone shouts...
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                   TIME!
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - CASSIUS
          
          PAST him a short man in a white shirt, ANGELO DUNDEE, has
          entered with a folded newspaper under his arm.
          
                                                                         5.
          
          And Cassius -- elsewhere -- SLAMS the speed bag with a right
          hook, and the bag becomes...
          
          INT. THE MASJID AL ANSAR-MOSQUE - CASSIUS - DAY (MIAMI)
          
          in black glasses, leaning against a wall.
          
                             MALCOLM X (O.S.)
                   ...and those of you who think you
                   came here to hear us tell you, like
                   these Negro leaders do, that times
                   will get better and we shall
                   overcome someday, I tell you: you
                   came to the wrong place.
          
          MALCOLM X is at the podium.   Ceiling fans.   We could be in
          Tripoli.
          
                             MALCOLM X (CONT'D)
                   'Cause your times will never get
                   better until yo make them better.
                   And any of you who think you came
                   here to hear us tell you to turn
                   the other cheek to the brutality of
                   the white man and the established
                   system of injustice in this country,
                   to beg for your place at their
                   lunch counter, I say again! You
                   came to the wrong place.
          
          And Cassius is there in a black shirt, standing in the back.
          Malcolm X sees him, nods...the casualness attests their
          familiarity is close and extensive...
          
                             MALCOLM X (CONT'D)
                       (beat)
                   'Cause we don't teach you to turn
                   the other cheek. We don't teach
                   you to turn the other cheek in the
                   South. We don't teach you to turn
                   the other cheek in the North. The
                   Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches
                   you, instead, to obey the law. To
                   carry yourselves in a respectable
                   way. And a proud Afro-American way.
                   But at the same time...we teach
                   you...that anyone who puts his hand
                   on you? Do your BEST...to see he
                   doesn't PUT HIS HAND on
                   any...body...else...AGAIN.
          
                                                                          6.
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - LUMINOUS HOOP - MORNING
          
          Whopwhopwhopwhopwhop...as first rays of golden light
          illuminate the jump rope spinning effortlessly over his head
          in a blur. Dust dances in light through the two dirty
          windows with boxing gloves and "Fifth Street Gym" painted on
          them. It's that time of day Jack Johnson called the
          "fighter's hour," "...between the night and the light..."
          ...whopwhopwhopwhopwhop... And Angelo Dundee puts on a pot
          of coffee. He washes his hands in a dirty sink, thoroughly
          drying them. Alert and clean, he's old school. He goes
          back to the edge of the ring, reading his newspaper. Now,
          crossing past the white windows is DREW "BUNDINI" BROWN. He
          takes an orange out of his pocket, sitting on a bench,
          silently peels it... As Cassius "walks" the rope, jumping
          up and back.
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                          (approving; past newspaper)
                      Yeah. Like that, Daddy. Don't
                      jump in one place. Bad for the
                      heart. That's the most important
                      thing.
                          (without looking)
                      TIME!
          
          Cassius drops the rope where he stands, and walks off as Sam
          Cooke...
          
          INT. THE HAMPTON HOUSE CLUB - SAM COOKE
          
          segues into "Bring It On Home" and women in the front row
          reach out for him. The heat between Cooke and them is
          palpable. The first row is going crazy as...
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - CASSIUS
          sits into our frame, glistening with sweat, directed through
          tortuous calisthenics by the hands of Luis Sarria.
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      TIME!!!
          
          INT. HAMPTON HOUSE CLUB - HIGH + WIDE FRONTAL:    SAM COOKE'S
          
          sweating.    The place is rocking as...
          
          INT. THE RING, FIFTH STREET GYM - CASSIUS' EYES - DAY
          
          alive, sparring. But Cassius never throws a punch... He
          jerks back, sliding away, an inch away from being hit. He
          circles in a movement that seems off-balance and then
          becomes fluid and changes rate, faking out where you think
          he'll be. His sparring partner throws a jab that misses and
          
                                                                        7.
          
          follows with a hook. Cassius slips it by an inch. Entering
          the gym, now, is gregarious DR. FERDIE PACHECO with a young,
          afro'd HOWARD BINGHAM, who starts photographing while LUIS
          SARRIA looks at us. None of the gathered crowd, the
          greatest "corner" in boxing, breaks his concentration. He's
          in his zone. We're in the ring. Cassius, trance-like,
          hands down, circles and slips in no predictable way as...
          
          INT. A LIMOUSINE - NOW CASSIUS IS - DAY
          
          zenned out in SLO-MO on the way somewhere in a suit and tie.
          People on the Miami streets drift by. The slow-moving limo
          floats on its soft suspension through the pastel heat of
          Miami. While Sam Cooke...
          
          INT. HAMPTON HOUSE CLUB - SAM COOKE
          drives to the big climax of "Bring It On Home To Me...!"
          counter to the limo's EXTREME CALM as Sam Cooke's medley
          ends and...
          
          INT. A HALLWAY, THE MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER - CASSIUS - DAY
          
          in a terry-cloth robe, walks faster and faster as Dundee and
          Bundini, Bingham and his cameras, Pacheco and RUDY race to
          keep up. And as Cassius slams through a door into a large
          room...
          
          INT. THE WEIGH-IN ROOM, MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER - CASSIUS - DAY
          
          EXPLODES:
          
                                CASSIUS/BUNDINI
                          (shout)
                      Float like a butterfly! Sting like
                      a bee! Rumble, young man, rumble.
                      Aaaaaaargh!
          
                                CASSIUS
                      Sonny Liston: you ain't no champ!
                      You a chump!
                          (beat)
                      You want to lose your money, bet on
                      Sonny. He know I'm great. He will
                      go in eight!
          
          500 press, promoters and boxing people turn and stare!
          
                                CASSIUS (CONT'D)
                      What you lookin' at, you ugly bear?!
          
          LISTON a tree trunk in boxing shorts, can't wait to pull
          apart this kid.
          
                                                                     8.
          
                              CASSIUS (CONT'D)
                    C'mon, bum. I whup you right here!
          
          Cassius pushes past people and leaps at Sonny! He wants to
          rumble right now. Bundini, Rudy, Dundee, Liston's handlers
          struggle to keep them apart, wrestle Cassius onto the scale.
          
                              A MAN
                        (reading)
                    ...210... Cassius Clay weighs 210
                    pounds.
          
                              CASSIUS
                        (changes down)
                    You sure you got that right...?
          
          The man nods. Cassius gets off, is pulled aside. And
          Liston gets on: unremitting stare of death at Cassius...
          
                              THE MAN
                    218. Sonny Liston...the heavyweight
                    champion of the world weighs 218
                    pounds...
          
                              BUNDINI
                    Pounds of what?!
          
          And Cassius goes off again...
          
                              CASSIUS
                    Pounds of ugly! He so ugly, sweat
                    run backwards off his forehead to
                    get away from his face! C'mon,
                    bear! I turn you into a rug!!
                    Rumble right now, man!
          
          He's restrained by Angelo and Bundini.
          
                              SONNY LISTON
                        (low)
                    Keep talkin', punk-ass faggot!
                    I'll fuck you up like I's your daddy...
          
          Handlers break it up and hustle Liston out of there.
          
                              CASSIUS
                    You whup me, I'll crawl out of the
                    ring on my knees and catch the next
                    jet plane out of the country.
          
                              JIMMY CANNON
                        (older reporter)
                    That a promise?
          
                                                                    9.
          
          Laughter.
          
                                CASSIUS
                          (to Jimmy Cannon)
                      ...you be the first eatin' his words!
          
          A Doctor claps a cuff around Cassius' arm, taking blood
          pressure.
          
                                THE DOCTOR
                          (alarmed, to Pacheco)
                      210 over 110?! I can't let him in
                      the ring in this condition!
          
                                REPORTERS
                          (shout)
                      Liston says he'll talk with his
                      fists. "Lip from Louisville."
                          (laughter)
                      ...odds 7:1 against you. Big bet's
                      whether he'll knock you out in the
                      first round or third round or kill
                      you altogether. You scared of him?
          
                                CASSIUS
                      I'm scared of no man. I give Sonny
                      Liston talking lessons, boxing
                      lessons and falling down lessons.
          
                                CANNON/OTHERS
                      Yeah, sure. Are you a Black Muslim?
                      Pat Putnam in the Miami Herald said...
          
                                CASSIUS
                      "Black Muslim"'s a press word...
          
          Dundee's defensive, fast...
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      Man's religion's his own business.
                      What kinda question's that?
          
                                REPORTERS/HOWARD COSELL
                      Does he hate white people? Malcolm
                      X was in town. Then he left. Was
                      that so he wouldn't embarrass you?
                      Liston cannot stand you...
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                          (sees)
                      Howard!
          
                                                                    10.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   ...cannot stand you, Cassius.   He
                   really wants to kill you...
          
          HOWARD COSELL is balding, tall, forties, lugging a tape
          recorder.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   Howard Cosell, you are an instigator!
                       (Cosell smiles)
                   How you get that way? When I'm
                   done with Liston, I'm comin' for you!
          
          Dundee uses that to end the conference before it strays into
          "Black Muslim" territory. Meanwhile on the way out...
          
                             DOCTOR
                       (to Pacheco)
                   It doesn't come down, I cancel this
                   fight. You call me in an hour with
                   his blood pressure.
          
          EXT./INT. MIAMI RENTAL HOUSE - DR. PACHECO - DAY
          
          past guards, Bundini, press, starts to enter. Inside,
          Clay's on the sofa, in his underwear, watching "The Man With
          the X-Ray Eyes," who has the power to imbue and control from
          beams emitted from his eyes. Dundee and Bingham hang out.
          
          Cassius' mind is elsewhere. His eyes float to the corner of
          the doorway before we see Pacheco, even though from the
          outside, has started to enter...
          
          EXT. CASSIUS' RENTAL HOUSE, BACKYARD - CORNER OF HOUSE - DAY
          (MIAMI)
          
          Nothing. Cassius is asleep in a lounge chair...incongruously
          a TV is run from the house by an extension cord. Cassius
          wakes. His eyes say, "Who are you?"
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (entering)
                   I'm called Bundini, rhymes with
                   Houdini. He was a Jew, too...some
                   other people call me Fastblack...or
                   Daddy Mac...
          
          Drew "Bundini" Brown, early forties, holds a hat in his hand,
          his eyes always seem to be glistening, ready to rage, laugh
          or cry, tentatively approaches. Cassius' flat eyes return
          to the television.
          
                                                                       11.
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                       (motions at lounge
                        chair)
                   Shorty sent me to Sugar Ray
                   Robinson. I gave my power to Sugar
                   Ray for seven years, gave him my
                   voodoo, my magic. Now Shorty sent
                   me to you.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   Who Shorty?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   I call him Shorty 'cause he like
                   'em circumcised. Original people.
                   Like Moses. And I was a babe in a
                   basket, too. I was born on a
                   doorstep with a note 'cross my
                   chest that read, "Do the best you
                   can for him, world." I had to suck
                   the first nipple come along. I
                   didn't run away from home...I been
                   runnin' to home.
          
          Cassius should kick him out, but Bundini's got his foot in
          the door of Cassius' attention.
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                       (beat, and his raison d'�tre)
                   Now, I gotta ask you. You fixin'
                   them fights? Else no way you could
                   tell great Archie Moore what round
                   you droppin' him in...all of them
                   predictions you make, comin' true.
                   Never heard of nobody predictin'
                   the round like you. You either a
                   phony or Shorty's in your corner.
                   Tell me the truth, young man...
          
          Cassius, stretched out, mumbles without looking at him...
          
                             CASSIUS
                   ...I study every fight. 'Til I got
                   a plan. Wear him down two through
                   four. Drop him in the fifth round.
                   So the p'diction ain't a p'diction.
                   It's a plan. And 'cause of all the
                   poppin' off I do, I know I gotta
                   win! That's the truth. And why
                   I'm tellin' you?
          
                                                                      12.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   'Cause I'm gonna be your Inspiration.
                   Your motivator. In your corner.
                   Can I be in your corner, young man?
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (thinks, then)
                   Yeah...
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (inexplicably moved,
                        covers)
                   Ain't spent much time in Miami.
                   Where the water?
          
          Cassius has drifted off, back to watching TV.    What he sees
          as his eyes close is:
          
          INT. MIAMI RENTAL HOUSE - PACHECO
          
          The blur of Pacheco taking his blood pressure.    Now Cassius
          looks and his shaman, Bundini, enters.
          
                             PACHECO
                   120 over 80?
                       (re: his blood
                        pressure)
                   You should be asleep...
          
          The weigh-in episode was an act. We take a different
          measure of this man. Pacheco sits next to Cassius and eats
          some of his potato chips.
          
          INT. MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER, A DRESSING ROOM - HANDS -
          EARLY EVENING
          
          being wrapped. Cassius' shirt is off, sitting on a bench in
          the dressing room...the ritualistic tradition, having his
          hands taped. Dundee expertly does it. In the background,
          Bundini, Pacheco, Bingham, Rudy and Two Men in dark suits,
          someone from Liston's camp, and a State Boxing Inspector
          watch. Then, the door opens for Malcolm X, in a dark suit,
          thin tie. Cassius lights up. Dundee is done. The Boxing
          Inspector signs the tape. Then, Dundee puts on gloves and
          laces them while...
          
                             CASSIUS
                   When you get back?
          
                               MALCOLM X
                   Just now.    I'm front row, seat 7.
          
                             RUDY
                   I'm gonna find Mom and Dad.
          
                                                                    13.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   You could have stayed. Nobody
                   gotta hide when they with me.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Nothing wrong with being cool, my
                   brother. You been working toward
                   this moment for four years.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (while tying)
                   He's right.
          
          Dundee turns away to tear two strips of tape while Cassius
          and Malcolm face into a corner. Sarria throws a towel over
          Cassius' shoulders. Arms bent, head down, a true believer,
          he silently stands in prayer, bowing to the east with
          Malcolm. During this, Dundee starts collecting his cut gear
          on table.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   It's a crusade in modern times.
                   And television is beaming if off
                   Telstar to the whole world. So
                   Allah has brought this about for a
                   reason...
                       (time to leave)
                   Salaam alaikum, my brother...
          
          And as he goes, leaving us, not Cassius, incomplete, Cassius
          returns to Dundee, who ties gloves and puts tape over the
          knot. The Inspector signs that, too.
          
          INT. A CORRIDOR, CASSIUS - NIGHT
          
          A door slams open. Cassius comes along the hallway, his
          entourage surrounding him. Three large middle-aged white
          officials accompany him, too. His face is set in stone.
          White towels are draped over his head onto his shoulders.
          Bundini chirps in his ear. Dundee, like a plumber, carrying
          the tools of his trade...a bucket, his swabs and Vaseline.
          And they seem distant to Cassius. They reach the end of the
          corridor, and against the wall stand three or four older bad
          cigar guys. A curtain...the sounds from the arena drift
          into the hallway. Cassius is on his toes now, dancing,
          dancing. And as if being drawn by a force we can't see, he
          just goes...his entourage, as if holding on, carried along
          by him...
          
          INT. THE MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER - NIGHT
          
          He comes into the hall...there are shouts, some scattered
          applause, some booing, growing; and the sound moves through
          the arena...the sounds of expectations, ridicule, potential
          
                                                                         14.
          
          violence. But past the faces and the press, what's arrested
          Cassius' attention and makes him oblivious in his solitude
          to all else is the bright 20-by-20-foot place he wants to be
          most in all the world: the ring.
          
          INT. THE RING - CASSIUS - NIGHT
          
          is struck by the brilliance. Illuminated, ready to go...
          dancing...warming up. Counter to an expectation of anxiety,
          Cassius can't wait to get this on. Other sounds
          happen...irrelevant to him...and now the distant sound of
          Liston coming into the ring...his bulked-up presence, the
          roar he inspires, somewhere over there. And all of a sudden,
          Cassius turns to face the angry man who wishes him death.
          Cassius rocks left and right, like a tough kid on a corner
          ready to rumble. The hysteria act is gone; so is the
          boasting. Instead, there is only Cassius' stare. The
          effect is enigmatic: what is going on here? A Referee,
          like a distant bird, says something we don't hear...
          
          In the corner, his feet float, waiting.     There's the BELL
          for ROUND ONE.
          
          INT. RING - ROUND ONE - WIDE
          
          It starts.
          
          LISTON
          
          right away throws a left that misses and attacks Cassius,
          throwing seven more that Cassius with extreme, awkward
          caution evades.
          
          He is fearful of the monster whose punches he has yet to
          feel. Nevertheless, he does his job: measure Liston's
          range and speed. Then, a body shot catches him above the
          heart. Cassius feels the real power of Liston. It could
          stop your heart's beating. He survives. Then...
          
          CASSIUS
          
          throws his long left jab. It keeps Liston at a set distance.
          He has Liston's range, now, and he dances away from Liston's
          charges. Then, halfway through the round, Cassius' eyes
          have hunted out an opportunity, and he throws his first
          combination with a few hard shots that, to Liston's surprise,
          rock Liston's head back. And, then, Cassius easily evades...
          
          LISTON'S
          
          furious big misses to the left and right.
          
                                                                        15.
          
          CASSIUS
          
          keeps tagging Liston with his long left. And, now,
          infuriates Liston even more by merely walking away from
          Liston's big misses, provoking even wilder and more
          inaccurate Liston assaults. (We're aware that any Liston
          shot could knock out Cassius if it connected.) Then Cassius
          soaks up a couple of body shots, most flicks his jab, slides,
          dances, clinches, circles away...UNTIL...
          
          AT THE END OF THE ROUND
          
          Cassius launches a second combination, slams a couple of big
          lefts Liston's way that rock his head back two times.
          Liston's so furious, he flips, charging Cassius, who hits
          and ducks at the same time. The BELL RINGS THREE TIMES
          before they stop.
          
          CLAY'S CORNER - CASSIUS
          
          breathes hard.    Dundee works.   Cassius says something we
          can't hear.
          
                                CASSIUS
                      He was supposed to kill me.   Well,
                      I'm still alive.
          
          Angelo is talking to Clay a mile a minute, while Clay MUGS
          an open mouth...to the press, ridiculing their accusation he
          was all talk. It's clear he controlled Round One to
          everyone's surprise.
          
          THE BELL.    INT. RING, ROUND TWO - CASSIUS + LISTON
          
          We see press with typewriters, ribbon, microphones, note
          pads; massive TV cameras hang on platforms over two of the
          corners. It's a desultory, lower-key version of Round One.
          And...
          
          BIRD'S NEST TV CAMERA + MEDIA
          
          Coverage segues to Liston, who throws and misses a few lefts.
          Cassius tags him with a few rights.
          
          THE BELL.    CASSIUS
          
          literally ambles into the corner.
          
          SONNY'S CORNER:    HIS TWO TRAINERS
          
          Liston's getting a lot of strident advice.        THE BELL.
          
                                                                      16.
          
          INT. RING, ROUND THREE
          
          LISTON'S LEFT
          
          comes in like a freight train. Cassius merely leans away to
          avoid Liston, circles and now snaps off a flurry and OPENS A
          CUT UNDER SONNY'S LEFT EYE. Then, he splits out of there.
          
                             ANNOUNCER
                       (at ringside, on radio)
                   He's opened a cut on Liston.
                   Liston's never been cut!
          
          And Cassius, seizing opportunity, hits Liston with more
          combinations. If Cassius won Round One, probably but not
          certainly won Round Two, he now demonstrates he OWNS Round
          Three. It's a symphony of classical Cassius Clay footwork,
          flicked jabs that confuse, and, then, hard-hitting
          combinations that rock the presumably immovable Liston. No
          one told Sonny that Cassius could hit. And, at 210 pounds,
          he hits HARD. Liston, angered, panicked, knows he's losing
          and goes after Cassius and misses wildly as the BELL ends
          Round Three...
          
          INT. CLAY'S CORNER - CLAY
          
          stands a moment before he sits.
          
          EXTREMELY CLOSE:   CASSIUS CLAY
          
          breathing heavily, ignoring the stool and Dundee and Bundini,
          looks around. THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE 22, TO BE
          CASSIUS CLAY, TO BE ON TOP OF YOUR GAME AND TO BE ABOUT TO
          OWN THE WORLD. He looks over the crowd. Only then, turns
          and sits...
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (to Dundee)
                   He's nothin' to me...
          
          The genius of Cassius...
          
                             CASSIUS (CONT'D)
                   And he knows it...
          
          INT. LISTON'S CORNER - CORNERMAN
          
          slips a vial of some medicant from his pocket and rubs it
          into Liston's shoulder.
          
          INT. RING - ROUND FOUR
          
          The BELL RINGS. Clay peppers Liston with jabs.    Liston
          pokes his left at Cassius, trying to reach him.   They feint,
          
                                                                         17.
          
          circle. Liston gets his left into Cassius' face.    It's more
          a poke than a shot.
          
          CLOSE:   CASSIUS
          
          blinks back something...we're not sure what. It seems to go
          away. Then it's back. The fight continues...
          
          WIDER:   CASSIUS
          
          dominating. They clinch. They break. This time Cassius
          violently blinks his eyes! Something's wrong!
          
                                CASSIUS
                      ...my eyes!
          
          A knife-like pain. He can't see.     He's getting beaten up.
          He's in trouble. The BELL.
          
          INT. RING, CASSIUS' CORNER - CASSIUS
          
          sits.
          
                                CASSIUS
                          (shouting)
                      My eyes! I can't see...somethin'
                      in my eyes!
          
          Dundee feverishly washes water to get the irritant out of
          Cassius' eyes.
          
          INT. ARENA
          
          A buzzer sounds, warning the bell's coming for Round Five.
          Now Cassius stands, saying...
          
                                CASSIUS
                          (his gloves)
                      Cut 'em off! Cut 'em!   I'm blind.
          
          The BELL.    Dundee's still in the ring.
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      No. You quit, it's over! Get out
                      there. Be a yardstick. This is
                      the big one, daddy. Get out there
                      and run!
          
          He literally pushes Cassius into the ring.
          
          INT. RING - ROUND FIVE - LISTON
          
          rushes Clay. He knows this is his chance. Cassius tries to
          tie Liston up by holding onto the back of his neck, but
          
                                                                       18.
          
          Liston pounds left and right hooks. If anybody wondered if
          Clay could take punishment, this answers that. WHAM-WHAM-
          WHAM-WHAM-WHAM...five huge hooks.
          
          Liston is desperate to end it while Cassius is in trouble.
          Haymaker after haymaker; some connect, others are blocked
          but knock Clay sideways. Clay, still blind, keeps backing
          and dancing.
          
          CLOSER:   CASSIUS' EYES
          
          With a minute left, now, he sees better. Liston throws him
          into a corner, still trying to put him away. But, he can't,
          and Liston's energy seems to deflate once he knows that.
          The BELL.
          
          INT. RING, CASSIUS' CORNER - CASSIUS'
          
          eyes are clear.   In 60 seconds he recovers his energy.    He's
          ready. BELL.
          
          INT. RING - ROUND SIX - CASSIUS
          
          can't wait to get out. He shuffles. He circles. He fires
          combinations. In the early rounds, provoked by Cassius,
          Liston's anger caused him to abandon his fight plan. Now,
          having been proven futile, Liston's confidence is gone.
          He's left with nothing. Psychologically and athletically,
          Liston is defeated. The BELL. Liston's eyes contemplate
          the inevitable: face nine more rounds of this.
          
          INT. RING, CASSIUS' CORNER - BETWEEN ROUNDS - AS CASSIUS
          
          waits for the seventh-round bell.
          
                              HOWARD COSELL
                        (doing color radio
                         commentary with Les
                         Kelter's blow-by-blow)
                    ...Clay, a round ago, looked like
                    he'd about had it, but in round six...
          
          Then Cassius, knowing before anybody else, suddenly rises as
          if on wings. Both arms are in the air...followed by a roar
          from the crowd...
          
                              HOWARD COSELL (CONT'D)
                        (realizing, screaming)
                    Sonny Liston is not coming out!
                    Wait a minute! Wait a minute!
                    Sonny Liston is not coming out!
          
          And we can see Liston still sitting on his stool in his
          corner, spitting out his mouthpiece.
          
                                                                     19.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL (CONT'D)
                   The winner...and the new heavyweight
                   champion of the world is Cassius Clay!
          
          Cassius jumps onto the ropes in the corner, rails the crowd:
          
                             CASSIUS
                   I upset the world! I am the
                   greatest! I am the greatest!
          
          All hell breaks loose...
          
                             CASSIUS (CONT'D)
                       (to press)
                   Eat your words! Eat your words!
          
          Howard Cosell, the first to climb into the ring, is on him...
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   What made him so easy for you?
          
                             CASSIUS
                   I told you. Didn't I tell you?
          
          Bundini gives him a comb.   Cassius combing his hair.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Was there any single point you knew
                   you had him?
          
          And he sees Malcolm leaving his seat...they look at each
          other. Malcolm's huge smile.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   I had him in the first round.
                   'Cause I'm the greatest!
                       (and seeing at ringside,
                        calling him up)
                   Sam... Hey, Sam! Let him up.
          
          And Sam Cooke climbs into the ring.
          
                             CASSIUS (CONT'D)
                   I am the greatest! And he the
                   greatest rock 'n' roll singer. Sam
                   Cooke! I want everybody to bear
                   witness.
                       (they embrace)
                   I shook up the world! Don't have a
                   mark on me! I was burning. I was
                   blind. I'm the prettiest thing
                   that ever lived. I shook up the
                   world! I shook up the world!
          
                                                                       20.
          
          As Sam Cooke embraces Cassius...
          
          INT. ELIJAH MUHAMMAD'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - WIDE - NIGHT
          
          A small older man with fine features, ELIJAH MUHAMMAD, THE
          MESSENGER, sits on plastic-covered furniture in his
          expensive living room. With him is an expressionless man
          who, literally, never smiles, in a tailored dark suit. He's
          JOSEPH 13X. As Elijah Muhammad, the head of the Nation of
          Islam, contemplates Cassius' victory -- like everyone else
          in America, he's surprised.
          
          INT. THE MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER - PAY PHONE - NIGHT
          
          GORDON DAVIDSON is from the Louisville Sponsoring Group,
          standing in the chaos with another partner and Odessa and
          Cassius, Sr....
          
                             GORDON DAVIDSON
                   ...I don't care what should have
                   been ordered! We need a victory
                   party right now.
                       (pause)
                   I got national press, the family,
                   the champ, all kinds of folks...
                       (beat)
                   250 to 300. Yes.
          
          INT. THE SIR JOHN NIGHTCLUB - SAM COOKE - NIGHT
          
          singing "Feel It." It's packed with elated people. Outside,
          celebrations spill out onto the streets...cars honking...
          
          EXT./INT. HAMPTON HOUSE VILLAS - CLOSE ON COOKE AS HE
          CROSSES - NIGHT
          
          through the club, with lots of partygoers, picks up
          Chesterfields from the cigarette girl and goes out by pool,
          around which we see women at tables in cocktail dresses and
          good-looking men. Most of the rooms' doors are wide open,
          couples drinking, celebrating...radios playing out into the
          Floridian night.
          
          INT. THE BALLROOM, THE RONEY PLAZA HOTEL - GORDON DAVIDSON -
          NIGHT
          
          and others of the Louisville Sponsoring Group in a crowd of
          predominantly white people, drinking free drinks at the
          hastily arranged victory party, wait. Sportswriters...Jimmy
          Cannon, Red Smith. Cassius, Sr. is there. They all wait.
          No sign of Cassius. "Where's your boy?" A young New York
          Times sportswriter, ROBERT LIPSYTE, is there as well. He
          looks like he doesn't belong...his clothes are only
          perfunctorily conventional, and he's a generation younger.
          
                                                                     21.
          
          INT. HAMPTON HOUSE HOTEL ROOM - SAM COOKE - NIGHT
          
          enters and closes the door and greets Malcolm X, in a white
          shirt, no tie, and Cassius, eating ice cream in a pool of
          light from the TV. Malcolm's wife, Betty Shabazz, comes out
          of the kitchenette. A little girl runs from the bathroom
          back to Cassius. The girl plops into his lap with much
          familiarity, so we understand Cassius is family and has been
          for a while. He's not at the Fontainebleau or the Roney
          Plaza. It says Cassius' sense of himself is more about
          what's next than what he did tonight.
          
                             GIRL
                   Why's he so scared?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Man, look at that guy run!
          
          Cassius feeds the girl some ice cream.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   The Mummy! "I can't get away from
                   the mummy!" Yeah, but that mummy
                   too slow to catch anybody.
          
                              SAM COOKE
                   Hey!   The mummy always gets his man...
          
                             CASSIUS
                   No, he don't!
                       (to kid)
                   Now, don't believe that stuff on
                   television...
          
          Laughter from the outside. Cassius looks. He's not drawn
          to all the partying. Malcolm takes a picture with his
          Contax. Through the door enters Jim Brown. Jim embraces
          Malcolm and Betty, Sam Cooke, and congratulates the new
          champ and helps himself to food.
          
          INT. THE HAMPTON HOUSE HOTEL ROOM, 1964 - NIGHT, LATER
          
          The room's near dark. Soft sounds from outside. A laugh.
          A snatch of music. Malcolm's children are asleep on a cot.
          And we see Cassius has fallen asleep on the sofa. A
          bedsheet is over him. Malcolm and Betty, sitting at the
          table in the kitchenette, quietly talking...an intimate
          laugh...partners. And as Cassius, the new heavyweight
          champion of the world, spends the first night of his reign
          asleep at "home" with this family...
          
                                                                    22.
          
          EXT. 125TH STREET + 7TH AVENUE - CASSIUS, MALCOLM + A CRUSH
          OF PEOPLE (NEW YORK, 1964) - DAY
          
          Suddenly we're in Harlem. The streets are jammed. Making
          them crazy, causing a riot, coming down the sidewalk,
          looking like a rock-and-roll star in a black leather jacket,
          is CASSIUS CLAY and in an overcoat and hat, MALCOLM X. They
          OWN this day on 125th Street.
          
          EXT. MICHAUX BOOK SHOP - PEOPLE - DAY
          
          engulf them. People are their army. The sea of people
          press close to their heroes...reaching out to touch the
          champ, share a joke, laugh. A girl runs up to hug Cassius
          and runs off. We catch a glimpse on the periphery of Joseph
          13X. Seven or eight reporters, black and white, and still
          photographers and Bingham, half with Cassius, half
          photographer in privileged position.
          
                             A REPORTER
                   The people look to you. Do you
                   plan on being a people's champ,
                   like Joe Louis?
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (tentative)
                   Yeah. I going to be a people's
                   champ...
                       (beat)
                   But not like Joe Louis, exactly...
          
                             A REPORTER
                       (starts)
                   Mr. Clay...?
          
          And Cassius drops it on them...
                             CASSIUS
                   And I'm not Clay. Clay's the name
                   of the people who owned by
                   ancestors. I don't want to be
                   called after that slave name no
                   more. So I'm "X." Cassius X. And
                   I'm a member of the Nation of Islam.
                   The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is my
                   spiritual guide. Malcolm X is my
                   mentor.
          
          This is hard news!
          
                             REPORTERS
                       (all at once)
                   You a card-carrying member?    Aren't
                   Black Muslims a hate group?
          
                                                                    23.
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (droll)
                   "Card-carrying"...? Don't need no
                   "card." You got a Christian card?
                   750 million people believe in Islam.
                   I'm one of them.
          
                             ANOTHER REPORTER (O.S.)
                   Minister Malcolm...what about the
                   reports of a split between you and
                   Elijah Muhammad?
          
          JOSEPH 13X:   we read his face listening to Malcolm.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   This is the champ's time. And I'm
                   here as a friend to celebrate his
                   victory. So I got nothing you want...
          
                             CASSIUS
                   I'm going to be a people's champion.
                   But I don't have to be the way you
                   want me to be. I'm gonna be what I
                   want. And I'm free to think any
                   way I want...
          
          And, as he goes on, the crowd knows neither Cassius nor
          Malcolm will ever turn their backs on them.
          
          EXT. THE HOTEL THERESA - MALCOLM - NIGHT
          
          enters into the street with his Bodyguard and looks up to a
          top-floor window in which he sees a light is still on at 4 a.m.
          
          INT. THE HOTEL THERESA, CASSIUS' ROOM - CASSIUS - BEFORE DAWN
          
          asleep with the television on. There's a knock on the door.
          Barely awake, he gets up to answer it. It's Malcolm. Still
          in his familiar hat and overcoat. He hasn't slept...
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   I was leaving, saw the light
                   on...how come you're up?
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (mumbles, half-asleep)
                   ...watchin' a show on
                   termites...they knockin' down this
                   house, here.
          
          He goes back to lay on the bed. Malcolm looks out the
          window...the wet streets at night.
          
                                                            24.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   I been invited to speak at Ibadan
                   University in Nigeria. C'mon with me?
          
                             CASSIUS
                   Six million in your house and you
                   don't know it. Where?
          
                              MALCOLM X
                   Africa.   You been there?
          
                             CASSIUS
                   Africa? No. Only Rome.      Yeah, man,
                   let's go!
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Nkrumah stayed with me when he was
                   a student in New York, so we'll
                   stop in Ghana...
          
                             CASSIUS
                   When we leaving?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Next Thursday.
          
          Malcolm's distracted.   He fingers his glasses.
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (sees)
                   What is it?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   You ever been so angry...have you
                   ever been so angry that you'd explode?
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (after a beat)
                   Tore out a picture of Emmett Till
                   when I was little. Couldn't take
                   my eyes to it...couldn't look at it.
                   Barb-wire around his neck to a 75-
                   pound cotton-gin fan. Took out his
                   eye. The cruelty to it...I
                   couldn't look at it...couldn't
                   throw it away.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   What else?
          
                                                         25.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   I thought, "What I do wrong to be
                   so low that people could do that to
                   people like me?" It made me feel
                   ashamed. And that makes no sense.
                   But that's what it was.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   ...when I heard about the four
                   girls bombed in the 16th Street
                   Church in Birmingham?
                       (beat)
                   The prohibitions of the Honorable
                   Elijah Muhammad prevented me from
                   speaking my voice in action.
                   Because Birmingham was part of the
                   civil rights movement, begging for
                   a place at the white man's table...
                   But dead children...are dead
                   children. So the anger I felt, I
                   had to contain. I locked that down!
                   So tight my muscles seized. I lost
                   control over the right side of my
                   body. Leg didn't work...right arm
                   didn't work. "I'm having a stroke,"
                   I thought. I had to hold it in
                   'cause I wanted, all I wanted was
                   to BREAK SOMETHING! Break a
                   part...any part of this system.
                   Because you are so provoked as a
                   human being. In your spirit. In
                   your heart... At the death of
                   children. But I COULD DO...nothing.
          
          Cassius is quiet.
          
                             MALCOLM X (CONT'D)
                       (putting his glasses
                        back on)
                   Everyone knows... Now I'm
                   advocating more direct political
                   action involvement with the
                   international struggle... So
                   Elijah Muhammad has suspended me as
                   a Minister in the Nation of Islam
                   for 90 days.
          
                             CASSIUS
                   You can fix that...
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   I don't know. I will try when we
                   get back. Until then I will live
                   each day as if I am already dead.
          
                                                                    26.
          
          That statement surprises Cassius, but he says nothing.
          Malcolm X stands by the window and watches the day begin in
          Harlem.
          
          INT. ELIJAH MUHAMMAD'S HOUSE, CHICAGO, 1964 - JOSEPH 13X - DAY
          
          approaches Cassius in a suit and tie and beckons him into a
          living room in which sits Elijah Muhammad on a plastic-
          covered white sofa. Cassius is at his most deferential,
          awed at being in this man's presence. Elijah's power is the
          inverse of his size. He's short and delicate-featured. He
          motions for Cassius to sit beside him. Joseph 13X sits
          across the room with two men.
          
                             ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
                   Only after long service and high
                   merit in the spiritual and physical
                   rebirth of Afro-American people...is
                   one granted an original name. But
                   you are special. A world champion.
                   So there is a gift I wish to give
                   you. From this day forward you
                   will be known as Muhammad
                   Ali...which means "one worthy of
                   praise," and Ali means "most high."
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (a beat, sounding it)
                   Muhammad Ali.
                       (humble)
                   "Worthy of praise..." Thank you!
          
          And he's genuinely moved. As Elijah Muhammad puts his small
          hands in Muhammad Ali's hands...giving him his blessings...
          
                             ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
                       (cautioning)
                   Be very careful what you say...your
                   words reflect on the nation of
                   Islam, now.
          
                               CASSIUS
                   Yes, sir.
          
                             ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
                       (after a beat)
                   Up until now, I have entrusted your
                   spiritual development to Brother
                   Malcolm.
                       (beat)
                   I do not feel this is a wise course
                   anymore.
          
                                                                        27.
          
          Extremely emotional about Malcolm, tears come to Elijah
          Muhammad's eyes. Joseph 13X observes in the background.
          Cassius is taken by surprise at "The Messenger"'s display...
          
                             ELIJAH MUHAMMAD (CONT'D)
                   Malcolm has gone off into the
                   secular world and does not measure
                   his words. I have decided to give
                   you, as your guide, my very own son,
                   Herbert Muhammad.
          
          And he looks across the room...a roly-poly man wearing a bow
          tie...HERBERT MUHAMMAD. He has a habit of nervously
          straightening his shirt. A seemingly mild, pleasant man, he
          is without self-definition. Below this avuncular surface,
          he defines himself by quietly desiring and acquiring what is
          others'.
          
                             ELIJAH MUHAMMAD (CONT'D)
                   Herbert will supervise all of your
                   spiritual and material needs.
          
                             CASSIUS
                       (not a thought)
                   This is a great honor, Messenger...
          
          Elijah gives a subtle look and Herbert retreats to where he
          came from, sitting back on the couch by Joseph 13X...
          
          EXT. THE CLAY HOUSE, LOUISVILLE, 1964 - EVENING
          
          We've entered mid-scene.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   Why you want to change?
          
                             A NEIGHBOR (V.O.)
                       (to Ali)
                   Could we get a picture with you?
                       (to Cassius, Sr.)
                   You mind, Mr. Clay?
          
          A neighboring family coming to stand beside Ali.   Cassius,
          Sr. steps aside.
          
          CASSIUS CLAY, SR., a sport, a flamboyant man, is impatient.
          Inside, Odessa Clay and brother, Rudy, are talking.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   What's wrong with the lawyers and
                   managers you got?
          
                                                                    28.
          
                             A NEIGHBOR
                   One more.
                       (click)
                   Thank you.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   Yeah, yeah...
          
          They leave.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR. (CONT'D)
                   You got...I got you the best white
                   men I could find. Right here in
                   L'ville...
          
                             ALI
                   When the contract run out. I want
                   black lawyers and managers.
                   Chauncey Eskridge on North La Salle
                   Street...
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                       (angrily)
                   They saved you from the gangsters,
                   from the jackals and the hyenas of
                   boxing. Never cheated you.
                   Protected you with a trust fund...
          
                             ALI
                   I don't need no "protectin'" from
                   myself. Why I need protecting from
                   myself by them...?
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   And now I got to go tell them,
                   "Piss off. Cassius don't want you
                   around no more."
          
                             ALI
                   I ain't one of their thoroughbreds!
                   Or their charity things. "Let's do
                   somethin' for that well-behaved
                   colored boy, Cassius." I ain't
                   well-behaved nothing! I am a man.
          
          The light starts to go...porch lights starting to come on...
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   And I am not Cassius. I changed my
                   name. I am Muhammad Ali, now.
          
                               CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   You what?
          
                                                                   29.
          
                             ALI
                   That's right.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                       (stunned)
                   What? What's wrong with...our name,
                   my name...? We're...we made you.
                   We...
          
                             ALI
                   No one "made me"...
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   No bow-tie-wearin', Arab-talkin'
                   nigger gonna change that...
          
                             ALI
                       (anybody's son)
                   I made me.
                       (adamant)
                   No one's in that ring but me!
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   You don't know who you are...
          
                             ALI
                   I know who I'm not...I'm not
                   drinkin'! Goin' back on my wife!
                   I am not prayin' to no blue-eyed,
                   blonde-haired Jesus. I ain't...
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   Paintin' blue-eyed, blonde-haired
                   Jesuses and signs on cars is what
                   put steak and vegetables in you,
                   clothes on you...
                             ODESSA CLAY
                   ...dinner!
          
          And we realize it has gotten too dark to see...
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                       (cold)
                   Go ahead!
          
          Bitter silences.
          
                               CASSIUS CLAY, SR. (CONT'D)
                   Go ahead.
          
          Cassius, Sr. walks off...his back arched too straight,
          trying to hold his pride together.
          
                                                                        30.
          
                             ODESSA CLAY
                   You didn't get it from me...your
                   words, your sense of humor, what
                   makes you angry, what makes you a
                   fighter. You got that from your
                   daddy...
          
                             ALI
                   You saying I'm just like him?
          
                             ODESSA CLAY
                   I'm saying, if he was your age
                   today, he'd do the same as you.
                   And he knows that.
          
          And Odessa goes back inside.
          INT. MALCOLM'S HOUSE, KITCHEN (QUEENS, NEW YORK), 1964 - NIGHT
          
          We see Malcolm at work at the kitchen table.      It's cluttered
          and small. The telephone rings...
          
                               ONE OF HIS CHILDREN (OVER)
                   Daddy...    For you...
          
          Malcolm gets it.
          
                             JOSEPH 13X (V.O.)
                   Brother Malcolm...
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   What is it, Joseph?
          
                             JOSEPH 13X (V.O.)
                   The Honorable Elijah Muhammad has
                   given the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali,
                   to Cassius X. Herbert Muhammad's
                   been placed in charge of his
                   training, instead of you.
                       (and ultimately)
                   Muhammad Ali will not be traveling
                   with you to Africa.
          
          Malcolm's still.    He's been co-opted.
          
                             JOSEPH 13X (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                   The Honorable Elijah Muhammad has
                   asked me to inform you your
                   suspension has been extended
                   indefinitely.
          
          Joseph 13X hangs up. Malcolm quietly closes the door.
          Malcolm dials a number. No answer.
          
                                                                     31.
          
          Betty has come in.   They exchange a look.
          
                             BETTY SHABAZZ
                       (concerned for her husband)
                   Malcolm?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                       (after a beat, disconsolate)
                   Cassius won't be coming to
                   Africa...not with me.
          
          She puts her hand on Malcolm's shoulder.
          
                             BETTY SHABAZZ
                   Go anyway. Don't put it off.      It's
                   not safe here.
                             ONE OF HIS CHILDREN (OVER)
                       (calling)
                   Mommy...the bath's ready...
          
                                                       CUT TO:
          
          INT. GHANA AIR DC-8 COCKPIT - ALI - NIGHT
          
          in first class on a "Ghana Airlines" flight to Africa.
          Close by is Herbert Muhammad. Howard Bingham and Ali's
          brother, Rudy, are across the aisle from him, asleep...   The
          plane bumps in choppy air.
          
          Muhammad, unable to sleep, a nervous flyer, gets up. He
          wanders up the aisle to the front of the plane. A Stewardess
          comes out of the cockpit. Muhammad slows, startled by the
          pilots. Both pilot and copilot are black.
          
                             ALI
                       (joking)
                   Hey, man, where they put the real
                   pilot? What you doin' up here?
          
                             PILOT
                       (not understanding;
                        British accent)
                   I am...the pilot. He's the
                   copilot...
                       (moves map case)
                   Here, Mr. Clay, sit down...
          
                             ALI
                   No, man, I meant...in L'ville, when
                   I growed up, they barely let black
                   folks drive buses.
          
                                                                      32.
          
          Ali looks out the window...a new day downs over the land.
          Then Bingham shows up over Ali's shoulder. They all pose,
          facing the rear of the cockpit. Then, the Pilot points to
          the coast below them and the sunrise...
          
                             THE PILOT
                   Here we are. Cote d'Ivoire...Africa.
          
                                                        CUT TO:
          
          EXT. BUILDING IN CAIRO - CABLE - DAY (EGYPT)
          
          snakes out a building.   CAM FOLLOWS IT and we HEAR...
          
                             BETTY SHABAZZ (V.O.)
                   We should think of a name, Malcolm...
          INT. CAIRO BUILDING - WIDE:   HALLWAY - DAY
          
          MARLIN THOMAS -- paunchy, grey, late 40's -- walks up the
          stairs carrying take-out food.
          
                             MALCOLM X (V.O.)
                   How about Gamilah or Khalilah?
          
          INT. CAIRO EMPTY APARTMENT - MARLIN THOMAS - DAY
          
          crosses to ANOTHER AMERICAN wearing headphones in the
          glassed-in balcony where the CABLE connects to a portable
          tape-recorder.
          
                             MARLIN THOMAS
                       (eating)
                   Anything?
          
                             THE MAN
                   ...on the phone with his wife.
                   She's having a hard time
                   sleeping...baby's kicking a lot...
          
                             MARLIN THOMAS
                   Motor Pool, here, have a Chevy
                   parts catalogue...?
          
          As the CIA monitors Malcolm X...
          
                                                        CUT TO:
          
          EXT. INDEPENDENCE SQUARE, ACCRA - ALI - DAY (GHANA)
          
          in a Mercedes convertible. It's a monumental expression of
          the force for the independence of black Africa. Accra is a
          wonder to Ali. A Third World showplace, in 1964 Ghana is
          alive with the optimism of emerging Africa. Infrastructure
          
                                                                      33.
          
          and real estate are well-managed. Under Nkrumah, the city
          is in a frenzy of building public housing...
          
          ALI
          
          in the three-car caravan, passes the huge triumphal arch
          with its giant black star on the top. Thousands line the
          route to see the heavyweight champion and cheer him. For
          Ali it's another kind of parade...
          
          ALI'S POV:   GHANAIANS
          
          They're stockbrokers and street cleaners, salesmen and
          secretaries, hotel managers and military officers... All is
          a contrast to the de facto apartheid of the middle America
          of Ali's experience. They all cheer his caravan as it passes.
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. THE AMBASSADOR HOTEL, ACCRA - MERCEDES - LATE AFTERNOON
          (GHANA)
          
          arrives with Ali and entourage. It's a modern hotel.
          Meanwhile, a different group are about to depart in limos.
          One among them, a tall Man in a dashiki and sunglasses and
          carrying a walking stick, separates. He sees Ali. So does
          the woman next to him. She is the poet Maya Angelou.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                       (shouts)
                   Brother Muhammad...
          
          Taking off his shades, we realize it's Malcolm X. He wears
          a goatee, now. Ali turns, sees him. Total surprise.
          
                             ALI
                   Hey, man!!!
          
          They embrace. Ali greets him like the old friend he is.
          Maya and the Chinese diplomat wait a few steps removed.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   How you doin'? What's up, brother?
                   I knew you were here...didn't think
                   you were still here...
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   And I heard you were coming.
          
                                                                   34.
          
                             ALI
                   We just got here now...
                       (words rush out)
                   And, maaan, the brothers were flyin'
                   a DC 8. Flippin' switches,
                   navigatin', filing flight plans,
                   talkin' French...
          
          And they remember how much they like each other.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Where you goin'?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   When...uh, Liberia.   When you
                   fighting Liston?
                               ALI
                   November.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   This is Maya Angelou and Ambassador
                   Huang Ha. Amando Gonzalez is from
                   Cuba. Taher Kaid is the Ambassador
                   from Algeria.
          
          Ali waves.   They keep their distance.
          
                             ALI
                   Man, where should I go?   We're
                   planning on Egypt.
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Algeria. See Ben Bella...
                       (beat)
                   Go to Mecca, Medina. I just came
                   back. Made my seven circuits
                   around the Kaaba, prayed at
                   sunrise... There were two million
                   people...pilgrims from all over.
                   Dressed all the same, high and low,
                   the same. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed
                   Muslims. Arabs.
                       (off Ali's look of
                        surprise)
                   Blacks. Yeah. All of them,
                   Muslims praying together.
          
          INT. AMBASSADOR HOTEL ROOM - MARLIN THOMAS - DAY
          
          who was surveilling Malcolm X in Cairo is here, too. Right
          now he picks up the phone. REVEAL at the window an African
          Man and another American with binoculars.
          
                                                                       35.
          
                               BRADLEY (V.O.)
                   Hello...?
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   It's Marlin. You'll never guess
                   who Malcolm ran into...
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. LEOPOLDVILLE SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - BRADLEY - DAY (CONGO)
          
                             BRADLEY
                       (in French; into phone)
                   Un moment...
          
                             BRADLEY (CONT'D)
                       (English translation;
                        into phone)
                   Hold on a second...
          
          BRADLEY, an American in his late 30's, who's balding and
          whose mouth is too wide, sits at the teacher's desk in an
          empty classroom. A heavyset American and two Black African
          Thugs with M-1 carbines are with him.
          
                             MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE
                       (in French)
                   Le Minist�re de D�fense vous remercie.
          
                             MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE (CONT'D)
                       (English translation)
                   The Defense Minister thanks you.
          
          Uniformed MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE smiles and warmly shakes
          Bradley's hand. Bradley says "he's welcome" and signals to
          the Heavyset American. The American leads Mobutu's Military
          Aide somewhere. Meanwhile...
          
                             BRADLEY
                       (in French)
                   Il n'y a pas de quoi. Cela m'a
                   fait grand plaisir. Faites-lui mes
                   compliments.
          
                             BRADLEY (CONT'D)
                       (English translation)
                   It's nothing. Give him my compliments.
          
          INT. LEOPOLDVILLE SCHOOL CORRIDOR - MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE
          FOLLOWS BRADLEY'S AMERICAN
          
          to a sports court. Eight Uniformed Soldiers are with them.
          In the sports court, on their knees, hands bound behind them,
          facing away from us, are six prisoners in business clothes.
          
                                                                      36.
          
          One is a woman. Guarding them are Bradley's Guards.
          Mobutu's Military Aide's soldiers take over the prisoners.
          Mobutu's Military Aide talks into a walkie-talkie. Meanwhile...
          
          GEN. JOSEPH MOBUTU IN UNIFORM
          
          listens to his walkie-talkie. He has distant eyes. He's
          heard what he needs and walks up a staircase and around a
          corner.
          
          INT. LEOPOLDVILLE SCHOOL, SECOND CLASSROOM - MOBUTU
          
          enters. He is the beneficiary of this routine military coup.
          Other uniformed officers at students' desks now stand and
          applaud. Mobutu will rename the Congo "Zaire" and we'll see
          him later. Meanwhile in Ghana...
          INT. AMBASSADOR HOTEL ROOM - MARLIN THOMAS - DAY
          
                             MARLIN THOMAS
                   Malcolm bumped into Cassius Clay.
                   Muhammad Ali...whatever he calls
                   himself...
          
                             BRADLEY
                   I thought that was all over. Is
                   Clay going to support Malcolm's U.N.
                   resolution?
          
                             MARLIN THOMAS
                   I don't know.
          
                             BRADLEY
                   Find out. We'll pick up on Malcolm
                   in Liberia ourselves.
          
          EXT. AMBASSADOR HOTEL - ALI + MALCOLM X
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Drank from the well of Zem-Zem...
                   And you should visit Cairo. I have
                   friends there in...
          
          Meanwhile...
          
                             ALI
                       (his thoughts)
                   ...shouldn't have quarreled with
                   the Honorable Elijah...
          
          The rapport between them becomes fleeting.   Ali's attention
          drifts away. He closes down...
          
                                                                      37.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (to himself)
                   You shouldn't have...
                       (vocalized)
                   ...quarreled with the honorable
                   Elijah Muhammad...
          
                               MALCOLM X
                   What?
          
                             ALI
                   You shouldn't have quarreled with
                   Elijah Muhammad.
          
          And Ali separates.   He turns away.   Malcolm calls after him...
          
                             MALCOLM X
                   Brother Muhammad...
          
          Ali won't turn back from his rejection of Malcolm.   He
          shakes his head "no" and walks off.
          
                             MALCOLM X (CONT'D)
                   Brother Muhammad...!
          
          INT. TIGER LOUNGE, CHICAGO - SHERI - NIGHT
          
          sings "For Your Precious Love," and REVEAL: ALI + SONJI ROI
          dancing. We're back in Chicago. She's sexy and has a great
          smile and flashing eyes. People leave Ali alone. One Fruit
          of Islam bodyguard is nearby, semi-conspicuous. In a booth
          is Herbert with a date, another FOI guard, and a businessman.
          Sonji, who is sexually overt and fun, is laminated to Ali.
          After a few bars...
          
                             ALI
                   Sonji...Sonji Roi...
          
                             SONJI
                       (laughs)
                   What you keep sayin' my name for?
          
                             ALI
                   'Cause I love it, girl. How long
                   you been workin' for Herbert?
          
                             SONJI
                   'Bout a year. I sell "Muhammad
                   Speaks" over the phone...
          
                             ALI
                   What kind of name is that?
          
                                                    38.
          
                    SONJI
          My father named me after Sonja Henie.
          
                    ALI
          What's your father do?
          
                    SONJI
          He was shot in a poker game when I
          was two. He don't do nothin'.
          Sonja, on the other hand, was an
          ice skater, and my mother died when
          I was eleven.
          
                    ALI
          So who raised you?
          
                    SONJI
          Godparents, but I been on my own,
          doing my own thing...
          
                    ALI
          Whatcha doin' tomorrow?       Go ridin'
          with me.
          
                     SONJI
          No.   I gotta work, you know.
          
                    ALI
          I square it with Herbert.       I got a
          record player in my car.
          
                    SONJI
          A record player?     C'mon.    How come
          it don't skip?
          
                    ALI
          Got springs and stuff.
          
                    SONJI
          Herbert said you met The Beatles.
          
                    ALI
          Yeah. Only one of 'em's smart...the
          one with the glasses.
          
                    SONJI
          ...he's my favorite.
          
                    ALI
          People all screaming and fainting.
          I asked him, "This the way they act
          when you get big?"
          
                                                                    39.
          
                             SONJI
                   What he say?
          
                             ALI
                   He said, "Champ. The more real you
                   get, the more unreal it gonna get."
          
                             SONJI
                   Wow...
          
          After Sheri sings the first chorus...
          
                             ALI
                   Let's go...
          
                             SONJI
                   Yeah...
          
                             ALI
                       (crossing out)
                   Where you live?
          
                             SONJI
                   I'm takin' you there...
          
          Herbert looks up from his booth, starts to ask where they're
          going...but they're gone. He turns back to the man he's
          talking to...
          
          INT. SONJI'S APARTMENT - WINDOW - NIGHT (1964)
          
          PULL BACK from being above Chicago in the winter at night to
          Ali and Sonji making love where Sheri's voice sings the
          second verse. To Ali's reactions...
          
                             ALI
                   I think I gonna keep you around
                   forever, girl.
          
                             SONJI
                       (laughs)
                   Well, I'm not too busy right now,
                   so...I'll think on it.
          
                             ALI
                   Herbert said you weren't a Muslim.
          
                             SONJI
                   Cover my hair? No make-up?     Long
                   dresses? Honey, please.
                       (beat)
                   Were you a virgin?
          
                                                                    40.
          
                              ALI
                    Why?
          
                              SONJI
                        (laughs)
                    'Cause you so "gone" off a little
                    good time.
          
                              ALI
                    I'm no virgin...but I may as well
                    be.
                        (beat)
                    I ain't jokin'! I always know when
                    I know. See this face? I mean,
                    you got a pretty face for a girl's
                    face, but you ever seen somethin'
                    as pretty as me? Now, you about
                    five-foot-three...that's too small.
                    But I overlook that, too, 'cause...
          
                              SONJI
                        (sarcastic)
                    Thank you so much.
          
                              ALI
                    ...'cause of your spirit!
          
                              SONJI
                    My "spirit"...?
          
                               ALI
                    Yeah.   'Cause you too much fun!
          
                              SONJI
                    You serious?
          
          She raises his head next to hers, looks in his eyes.
          
                              ALI
                    But you gotta be a Muslim.
          
                              SONJI
                    Huh? How you do that? Step over a
                    broom...shazaam...you a Muslim?
          
          She laughs. He rests his head on her stomach.   He likes her
          irreverence...
          
                              ALI
                    Maaan, I ain't never been with a
                    girl like you.
          
                                                                      41.
          
                             SONJI
                   Baby, maybe you ain't ever gonna be
                   with any other.
          
          They start making love again.
          
          EXT./INT. 50TH ON THE LAKE MOTEL, COFFEE SHOP - ALI, HERBERT,
          BUNDINI + BINGHAM - DAY
          
                             HERBERT
                   What?
          
                             ALI
                   That's right.   I wanna marry her.
          
                             HERBERT
                   You can't marry that girl! She was
                   a date! Have some fun! She's not
                   your wife! You don't marry this
                   girl.
                       (puts contracts in
                        front of him)
                   Sign there. Management papers. My
                   father will kill me.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   True love!
          
          Bundini cracks up. Ali signs without even glancing at the
          documents. Bingham notices this.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   Watch what you signing, Ali.
          
                             HERBERT
                       (to Bingham; sharp)
                   Nothing to do with you.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You talkin' to me, or someone walk
                   inna room, fat boy? Anything's do
                   to with me I think's to d-d-do with
                   me...I'm st-st-still a Christian.
          
                             ALI
                       (signs anyway)
                   And get me a kosher cook...lady who
                   cooks at Malcolm's temple. Put my
                   brother on the payroll. 50g a year
                   for drivin' and jivin'.
          
                             HERBERT
                   Lana Shabazz...
          
                                                            42.
          
                             ALI
                   Yeah. How 'bout it, Howard. You be
                   my official full-time photographer.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   I ain't goin' on your payroll. I
                   like it freelance. Emphasis on "free."
          
          As Ali signs the last of the contracts.
          
                             HERBERT
                   Muhammad. She's not...for you.
                   When I met her, she was working at
                   a cocktail lounge with a bunny tail
                   on her backside.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   What were you doin' down at a
                   cocktail lounge, Herbert? Sellin'
                   "Muhammad Peeks"?
          
          Ali and Bingham crack up...
          
                             HERBERT
                       (to Bundini)
                   Sober up and say something to this
                   man, Bundini. You supposed to be
                   his "inspiration."
          
                              BUNDINI
                        (looks at Ali; to
                         Ali, serious)
                    I got to know about Sonji, Muhammad.
                    She got a sister?
                        (as Ali laughs)
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You been s-s-saving it up, training,
                   Champ. You can't unleash it on
                   this girl all sudden. You may kill
                   her! Maybe you should spread it
                   around more before you tie it down.
          
                             ALI
                   No. Marriage is the cornerstone of
                   Muslim life.
          
                             HERBERT
                   Sonji Roi is not a Muslim!
          
                             ALI
                   She gonna be a Muslim, now!
                       (flashes)
                   So fix it up, Herbert.
          
                                                                       43.
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - ALI
          
          past a speed bag onto Ali with Dundee + Sarria on the
          exercise table. They do NOT see, and we PASS them and other
          training boxers and MOVE IN to a portable B&W TV on top of a
          cabinet.
          
          ON B&W TV:   MALCOLM X + MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
          
          exchange greetings and introductions as if in a first-time
          meeting, and King turns back to CAMERA.
          
                             MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
                       (mid-statement)
                   I fear if this bill is not passed...
                       (beat)
                   ...our nation is in for a dark
                   night of social disruption.
          
          As an anchorman pontificates...IMAGE SUDDENLY BECOMES: FIVE
          DIFFERENT SURVEILLANCE ANGLES. King and Malcolm have no
          clue how extensive is the FBI Cointelpro surveillance and
          the operations mounted against them. And the image of the
          two of them becomes...
          
          INT. A COFFEE SHOP (WASHINGTON, D.C.) - THEIR PICTURE -
          SMILEY - DAY
          
          on the front page of the Washington Post. REVEAL Joseph 13X
          sitting next to JOE SMILEY in a small Washington, D.C.
          coffee shop.
          
                             JOSEPH 13X
                   Why we meeting?
          
                             JOE SMILEY
                   The idea was...to...make...Malcolm
                   smaller, you know? Diminished;
                   obscure? Not to turn him into a
                   messiah.
                       (the paper)
                   What I got, now, is Malcolm
                   shoulder to shoulder with Martin
                   Luther King.
                       (beat)
                   And Malcolm running all over the
                   world getting Ben Bella and Nasser
                   to denounce racism in the U.S.
                   while we're competing over there
                   with the Soviets.
                             (MORE)
          
                                                                        44.
          
                             JOE SMILEY (CONT'D)
                       (droll)
                   Not...a resounding success. We
                   were better off before, with
                   Malcolm INSIDE the Nation.
                       (beat)
                   So... We want you...to get Elijah
                   Muhammad...to take Malcolm back.
          
          Joseph 13X stares at him, slack-jawed.    Incredulous.   No
          reaction.
          
                             JOE SMILEY (CONT'D)
                   That's a joke. I'm kidding! Don't
                   you ever smile?
          
          Joseph 13X doesn't say anything.    He does not smile.
          
                             JOE SMILEY (CONT'D)
                   We're on a timetable. Malcolm's
                   pal, Quaison from Ghana, is
                   introducing Malcolm's resolution to
                   the General Assembly in Washington.
                   That's in five weeks.
          
          Joseph 13X oddly gets up, moving a stool over...
          
                             JOSEPH 13X
                   You got bad breath, man.
          
                             JOE SMILEY
                   Thyroid. I got a stab wound in
                   1961. They took it out. We gotta
                   talk about this guy, too.
          
          Smiley indicates the picture of Ali in "Muhammad Speaks"
          identifying him as a militant and a revolutionary.
          
                             JOSEPH 13X
                   When do I get my expenses
                   reimbursed...dry cleaning lots of
                   suits isn't free...
          
          Off Ali's picture...it becomes...
          
          INT. MIAMI HOTEL ROOM - ALI - NIGHT
          
          enters, looking for Sonji. Bundini and Cassius Clay, Sr.
          were laughing about something else. They got quiet.
          Bundini has a large water glass in his hand; Sr., a highball
          glass.
          
                                                                     45.
          
                             ALI
                       (to Bundini)
                   What you drinkin'?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   What am I drinkin'? Water's what
                   I'm drinkin', champ! I'm a natural
                   man...
          
          Ali goes to the bedroom door.
          
                             ALI
                   What's goin' on?     We're late.
          
          He's dressed for an occasion.
          
                             SONJI (V.O.)
                   I'm changing my damn clothes! You
                   didn't like what I was wearin'!
          
          As Ali re-enters the living room, there's a knock on the
          door..."Room Service..."
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Come on in...!
                       (sees)
                   What's that?
          
                             ROOM SERVICE
                       (with large glass)
                   What you wanted, isn't it...a water
                   glass with vodka...?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   That was before...
          
                             ROOM SERVICE
                   Before what?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Before you showed up...
          
          And, now, Sonji comes out. This dress makes what she had
          been wearing look demure. Tight angora sweater and a
          miniskirt. She's Tina Turner 30 years ago.
          
                             SONJI
                   I fine runnin' around in all these
                   cute short things for you. I
                   submissive to you. But I ain't
                   gonna be submissive to the Brother
                   X's and what they think. They
                   askin' me questions alla time anyway.
          
                                                                        46.
          
                             ALI
                   What questions?!
          
                             SONJI (V.O.)
                   About you and us and I ain't tellin'
                   'em shit.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                       (drunk)
                   Tell it like it is, sugar! They
                   took my boy's name...and what they
                   give him back? Bad style.
          
          Ali takes her back into the bedroom and closes the door.
          
                             SONJI
                   I don't drink. I don't smoke. I
                   converted to Islam for you and...
          
          INT. BEDROOM - SONJI + ALI - NIGHT
          
                             SONJI
                   All except the dress! I ain't
                   puttin' no bleached-out, double-
                   ugly bedsheets on this body, honey!
                   I'm normal!
          
          He's furious. She smiles. He picks her up. She moans and
          her tongue darts in his ear and they're on the bed making
          out. And as CAMERA DRIFTS away we HEAR D.J. Daddio Daley's
          "Jazz Patio"...
          
          INT. A NEW CAR (CHICAGO) - ALI - DAY
          
          king of the city, cruising through the pristine winter air
          of Chicago...
                             DADDIO
                       (on radio)
                   Hey there, old, aware ones. And
                   you, too, my fair ones...This is
                   "Daddio's Jazz Patio." ON KBCA
                   this fine day, which is A-okay...
          
          Segues to...Brubeck's "Time Out," cruising...
          
          INT. THE AUDUBON BALLROOM, HARLEM - REAR OF MALCOLM'S HEAD -
          DAY
          
          center-punches the   FRAME through the green-glazed terra-
          cotta hallway. He    and his Bodyguard (#1) come to a door.
          Shedding his coat,   he hesitates, and like a prizefighter
          gathering himself,   he goes inside.
          
                                                                       47.
          
          INT. ALI'S NEW CAR - ALI - DAY
          
          at a light, waves to a cluster of girls waiting for a bus
          who recognize him, go nuts...listening to Brubeck...
          
          INT. THE AUDUBON BALLROOM - MALCOLM - DAY
          
          walks across the stage, aware of every little sound, every
          motion. He makes his way to the podium...peering beyond his
          glasses at the gathered. Bodyguard #1 goes to the side door
          instead of standing next to him...and Malcolm notices
          that...as he...
          
                                MALCOLM X
                      As-Salaam Alaikum...
          
                                THE GATHERED
                      Wa-Alaikum-Salaam...
          
          And two young Black men, TALMADGE HAYER and NORMAN BUTLER
          immediately stand up in the back, jostling each other...
          
                                A YOUNG MAN
                          (shouts)
                      What you doin' in my pockets, man?
                      Get your hand outta my pocket!
          
                                MALCOLM X
                      Hold it, hold it, brothers!
                          (pleading)
                      Let's be cool.
          
          And the commotion in the back diverts Bodyguards #1 and #2
          towards the rear, away from the stage and Malcolm, as...
          
          THOMAS JOHNSON comes forward from a front row, his coat
          flapping open, revealing the 12-gauge sawed-off double-
          barrel shotgun coming up.
          
          MALCOLM'S EYES
          
          go to it.    Settle on it.   He new it was coming, as...
          
          JOHNSON, an indifferent expression on his face, FIRES one
          barrel at...
          
          MALCOLM
          
          ...which rips through the lectern as if paper and SLAMS a
          dead-center into his chest a seven-ring. 12 pellets, each
          the size of .32 bullet. Seven destroy Malcolm's heart.
          Five shred his aorta and burrow into his spine. Malcolm's
          hands fly back, and he topples, crashing off empty chairs
          onto the floor.
          
                                                                       48.
          
          UPSIDEDOWN ECU:   MALCOLM'S FACE + PAST
          
          ...as life exhales from his mouth and his eyes go grey,
          dying, indifferent to Johnson emptying a second blast into
          him and the meaningless indignities of Hayer and Butler
          firing a .45 and a 9mm Luger at him.
          
          INT. ALI'S CAR - RADIO - DAY
          
          Dave Brubeck, loud...
          
          INT. THE AUDUBON BALLROOM - STAGE - DAY
          
          Chaos. Malcolm on the floor. Betty kneels over his body,
          desperately trying to breathe life into it. An Asian woman,
          a disciple, holds up his head. Somebody shouts, "Jesus,
          God!" But there is no God today...
          
          INT. ALI'S CAR - ALI - DAY
          
          stops short at a light because a man runs across the street.
          
                               CRAZY MAN
                   Ambushed!
          
          LOUD Brubeck in 5/4 time.    Ali can't hear.
          
                             CRAZY MAN (CONT'D)
                   From the bullet holes, black eagles
                   flew! They screaming through the
                   streets...
          
          Ali rolls down the window.
          
                               ALI
                   What?
                             CRAZY MAN
                       (dazed)
                   They killed Malcolm...they shot
                   Malcolm.
          
          "Daddio's Jazz Patio" is interrupted. Malcolm X has been
          killed. Ali pulls over...not really parking. The world
          stops. The South Side of Chicago goes still...people
          numb...a young Man sitting down on the curb, crying. An
          elegy...Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come..." plays. "I
          was born by a river in a little tent..." And as Ali sits in
          his car...he sees the face of Malcolm...the glasses...
          
                                                                    49.
          
                             ALI
                       (his thoughts)
                   You were the first...you walked me
                   forward, my brother...you were the
                   first...
          
          He's overcome with a deep grief and a lack of confidence in
          the order of his world.
          
                             SAM COOKE
                       (sings)
                   "Been a long, long time comin', but
                   a change gonna come, yes it is..."
          
          INT. THE RING, ST. DOMINIC'S ARENA (LEWISTON, MAINE) - ALI -
          NIGHT
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   ...the arena is surrounded by FBI,
                   the stands are only half full, the
                   promoter has taken out a million-
                   dollar insurance policy due to
                   Cassius Clay's membership in the
                   militant and radical Black Muslims
                   because of death threats. Oh, and
                   by the way...Sonny Liston is here, too.
          
          ...sees Sonji enter in a sequined mini-dress, bouffant hair.
          She attracts attention and disapproval from Herbert. She
          sits next to Ali's parents at ringside amid the large,
          conservatively dressed Muslim contingent. He's angry at her
          presentation. She looks like a girl singer from a doo-wop
          group. He slips off his robe. Ali raises his gloves in
          Muslim prayer. Meanwhile: the BELL rings.
          
          ALI
          meets Liston, nails him with a straight right. Ali begins
          baiting him, dancing. Liston tries to cut off the ring,
          jabbing ineffectually. Ali lets Liston in, pulls back, then
          pivots on his right foot, throws a short right and RAMP INTO
          SLO-MO...to see Liston not see it coming.
          
          The muscles of Ali's upper body contract and ripple in
          release after his short RIGHT catches Liston on the point of
          his chin. Liston drops to the canvas like a stone.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL (CONT'D)
                   Liston is down! Scarcely a minute
                   into the first round, I can't
                   believe it!
          
          Sonji is up. For some reason, tears of worry stream,
          absurdly, from her eyes.
          
                                                                     50.
          
          The IMAGE:   Ali standing over Liston, fist cocked, bellowing:
          
                             ALI
                   Get up, sucker! Get up and fight!
                   No one gonna believe this!
          
          Liston tries to get up, rolls over. His left leg spasms.
          As the ref finally pushes Ali to a neutral corner.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   It's over; it's over!
          
          INT. MUHAMMAD'S DRESSING ROOM - NIGHT
          
          Sarria, Bundini, Pacheco as Dundee cuts the tape off
          Muhammad's hands. And Sonji appears at the door...runs and
          embraces Ali.
          
                             SONJI
                   You okay?
                       (he's cold)
                   What's wrong?
          
                             ALI
                   Why you done up like that?
          
                             SONJI
                   I'm dyin' and...'cause this is how
                   I dress! I dyin' for you out of
                   worry...
          
                             ALI
                   "Worry"...?
          
                             SONJI
                   Yeah. And all you care about is if
                   I look dull enough?
          
                             ALI
                   The world looks at me, girl! What
                   if I straightened my hair, live in
                   the white suburbs? How I am says
                   something!
          
                             SONJI
                       (quiet; tough)
                   Well, sorry you don't like how I am...
          
          EXT. HOLIDAY INN, BALCONY - ALI - NIGHT
          
          enters up the stairs. Bundini's waiting for him as are
          Reporters, trying to ambush him. Lots of activity in the
          motel forecourt.
          
                                                                     51.
          
                             ALI
                       (to Bundini)
                   Where's Herbert?
          
          Bundini indicates and Ali exits into Herbert's room. Beyond
          is the Holiday Inn marquee: "Clay vs. Liston II." A few
          letters droop.
          
          EXT. HOLIDAY INN, HERBERT'S ROOM - ALI - NIGHT
          
                             ALI
                   What do I do...?
          
          Ali, angry, stands in front of Herbert.
          
                             HERBERT
                   If you want, have no contact with
                   her for ninety days. Then you make
                   a public statement of divorce in
                   the mosque, and Islamic law will be
                   satisfied.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   "Satisfied?"...satisfaction is not
                   makin' it with the woman who send
                   you to the moon?
          
          Cassius, Sr. bursts in.   Bundini has Ali's championship belt
          over his shoulder.
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                   Man, I'm the only normal person
                   left around here and I'm a black
                   Jew who can't read and is half drunk.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   I gotta talk to you.
          
          Bundini and Herbert start to leave.
          
                             ALI
                   Please stay, Brother Herbert.
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   He ain't your brother! Your
                   brother taking your wife back to
                   Chicago. She's crying like a widow.
          
                             ALI
                   I ain't dead!
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   You might as well be. You don't
                   remember your name or who you are.
          
                                                                      52.
          
          Cassius, Sr. leaves the room.
          
          INT. HOLIDAY INN, ALI'S MOTEL ROOM - HIGH ANGLE:   ALI - NIGHT
          
          enters. Stands at the dresser. Only his suitcase is there.
          She left her chartreuse blouse. He takes it and smells the
          scent of her cologne. He is torn with grief at the loss of
          her, curling into a ball on the bed, alone in the room.
          
          INT. GREEN ROOM - ALI - DAY
          
          getting made up by a good-looking ASIAN COSMETOLOGIST. An
          ASSISTANT DIRECTOR lounges against the wall with headset,
          reading the newspaper...
          
                             COSMETOLOGIST
                   You got the prettiest eyes...
          
                             ALI
                   Yeah?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   He so pretty, when you look up
                   "pretty" in the dictionary, he too
                   pretty to be there.
          
          She laughs and whispers something in Ali's ear, holding his
          hand where the others can't see it and slips her phone
          number to him. Meanwhile...a phone rings. Bundini answers
          while...
          
                             A.D.
                       (re: newspaper,
                        to Ali)
                   ...you gonna try for Germany?
          
                             ALI
                   Huh?
          
                             A.D.
                   You gonna try to get stationed in
                   Germany?
          
                             ALI
                   What you talking about?
          
                              BUNDINI
                   Champ.   It's Eskridge...
          
                                                                       53.
          
                             A.D.
                       (Ali didn't know)
                   They changed your classification.
                       (turns page)
                   It's in the paper...You're 1-A.
                   You're gonna get drafted into the
                   Army...
          
                             ALI
                       (takes phone)
                   You know about this?
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE (V.O.)
                   Yes. But I think the government's
                   looking to negotiate a deal...
          
                             A.D.
                       (hears on headset)
                   Here we go...!
          
          INT. A NEW YORK TELEVISION STUDIO, ABC - COSELL - DAY
          
          "Wide World of Sports" is ON THE AIR.   We've entered mid-
          broadcast.
          
                             ALI
                   ...I flunk their draft board test.
                   Now, without testing if I am "wiser"
                   or "worser," they decide I can go
                   into the Army.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Cassius, it is my opinion you...
          
                             ALI
                       (cuts in)
                   And I'm not Cassius Clay. That's a
                   slave name. I'm a free man. I'm
                   Muhammad Ali.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (stops, realizing)
                   You know, I apologize to you. On
                   the air. Your name is Muhammad Ali.
                   You have the right to be called
                   whatever you want.
          
                             ALI
                       (stays angry)
                   You make a lot of mistakes for a
                   so-called educated man. You really
                   go to law school?
          
                                                                    54.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                      Yes, Muhammad. And to think I gave
                      up a lucrative practice for the
                      likes of you.
          
                                ALI
                      I'm the best thing that ever
                      happened to you, Howard Cosell.
                      Without me you be a tall white man
                      with a microphone in his mouth.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                          (fast)
                      And without me...you'd be a mouth.
          
          Ali lifts Howard's toupee.
                                HOWARD COSELL (CONT'D)
                          (into camera)
                      We'll be right back.
          
          Laughter.
          
          INT. ABC TELEVISION STUDIO, BACKSTAGE - ALI + COSELL - LATER
          
          Ali pours three spoons of sugar in his coffee.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                          (sarcastic)
                      Have a little coffee with your
                      sugar...?
          
                                ALI
                      Keep talking. You were saying
                      something half-smart...
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                      They want to make an example out of
                      you.
          
                                ALI
                      Why? I'm no Stokely Carmichael, H.
                      Rap Brown...
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                      All they are is political. They
                      tell people how they ought to be.
                      But you are the HEAVYWEIGHT
                      CHAMPION of the WORLD. You're
                      important. And they don't like
                      your militancy, your politics. So,
                      they'll make an example out of you.
          
                                                                    55.
          
                             ALI
                   ...of a good "Ne-gro," who do what
                   he told?
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Yes. Or, to demonstrate here is
                   what happens to your ass if you
                   don't...
          
          He's screwed either way.
          
          EXT./INT. THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES STATION, HOUSTON -
          LOBBY - CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE - DAY
          
          waits at the curb as Ali and Herbert pull up and get out of
          a car...move through the crowd...reporters shouting
          questions at him we don't hear, go up the steps, into the
          lobby, joining other recruits and M.P.'s.
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                       (quietly)
                   You do six weeks basic...you go
                   into the Reserves...you don't go to
                   Vietnam...you get to box...you even
                   get to keep the money...
          
          He gives Ali a piece of paper signed by the Justice
          Department, confirming the deal...
          
                             HERBERT
                       (lets him know)
                   The Messenger would not object if
                   you joined under these terms.
          
                             ALI
                   I stay out of jail and I get to fight.
                             HERBERT
                       (nods)
                   All you have to do is accept the
                   induction. And life goes on.
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   They call your name. You say yes.
          
          We're not sure what Ali will do.
          
          INT. INDUCTION CENTER, HOUSTON - ALI - DAY
          
          lined up with the twenty-five other inductees...being
          addressed by an Induction Officer, Naval LT. JEROME CLARIDGE...
          
                                                                      56.
          
                             LT. JEROME CLARIDGE
                   ...and you will take one step
                   forward as your name and service
                   are called, and such a step will
                   constitute your induction into the
                   Armed Force indicated.
          
          Lt. Claridge begins to read the names, and services...the
          young Men dutifully stepping forward. Ali expects his name
          to be called. Instead...
          
                             LT. JEROME CLARIDGE (CONT'D)
                   Cassius Marcellus Clay.
          
          It's quiet. Dead quiet. Ali's lips move. NO sound comes
          out. We anticipate him stepping forward...he doesn't.
                             LT. JEROME CLARIDGE (CONT'D)
                   Mr. Clay, I am required to inform
                   you that refusal to accept a lawful
                   induction order constitutes a
                   felony under the Universal Military
                   Training and Service Act, punishable
                   by up to five years' imprisonment
                   and a five-thousand-dollar fine.
                   Do you understand?
          
                             ALI
                       (nods)
                   Yes.
          
          TWO FBI AGENTS in suits have appeared.
          
                             LT. JEROME CLARIDGE
                       (repeats)
                   Cassius Marcellus Clay.
          Ali doesn't move.
          
                             LT. JEROME CLARIDGE (CONT'D)
                       (a third time)
                   Cassius Marcellus Clay.
          
          Herbert's dying.    Ali "stands his ground..." and the die has
          been cast.
          
                             A MAN
                       (presenting badge)
                   Federal Bureau of Investigation.
                   Mr. Clay, you're under arrest for
                   refusing induction...
          
          As they turn around and handcuff him.
          
                                                                    57.
          
          EXT. HOLIDAY INN (HOUSTON) - ALI + ENTOURAGE - LATE AFTERNOON
          
          approach from two vehicles. Rudy and SIX LARGE MUSLIMS
          escort Ali through the crowd of media trucks, reporters and
          conspicuous unmarked police cars and neighborhood people.
          
          ALI
          
          waves in Robert Lipsyte, the New York Times sportswriter in
          his late 20's we've seen before. He and Howard Bingham,
          waiting inside, know each other. They enter. The phone's
          already RINGING.
          
          INT. HOLIDAY INN ROOM + BALCONY - ALI
          
          on the phone, on a long extension, joined by Lipsyte and
          Howard Bingham, while Bundini keeps at bay reporters at the
          front door. It all feels like a rock group in town for a
          concert.
          
                             ALI
                       (listens; to cam.)
                   Ask Chauncey Eskridge in Chicago.
                   He's my lawyer. No. I'm out on
                   bail.
                       (goes onto balcony
                        [rear shot])
                   Yeah, I fight. I fight clean. I'm
                   an athlete. Army's there to kill,
                   kill, kill. My religion forbids
                   that. No. I never shot anything
                   in my life.
                       (turns)
                   Do I know where Vietnam is?
                       (wry; playing to
                        Bingham)
                   Yeah. It's on TV...
                       (beat)
                   In southeast Asia? It there, too?
                       (beat)
                   That's a joke, man...!
          
          Ali hangs up.   The phone rings again.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (frustrated)
                   What do I think about who?      Vietcong?
          
          Next is something Ali has not deduced. Ali perceives it
          intuitively and reflexively. As with other of his decisions,
          once made, he doesn't hesitate to speak them. And he won't
          waver. He says...
          
                                                                      58.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Man, I ain't got no quarrel with
                   them Vietcong.
          
          It goes dead silent.   Ali listens.   Lipsyte is stunned.
          So's Howard.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   No Vietcong ever called me nigger.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You know what you j-j-just said...?
          
          He hangs up.
          
                             LIPSYTE
                   From Europe to China...every home
                   in America...the world's gonna know
                   what the heavyweight champion of
                   the world said about the U.S. war...
          
                             ALI
                   So what?
                       (beat)
                   I ain't gonna be what anybody else
                   want me to be. I'm not afraid to
                   be what I want. And think how I want.
          
          And that's the real Ali, right there.
          
          INT. HOLIDAY INN, ALI'S SUITE - ALI - NIGHT
          
          laying on the sofa. Dundee, Pacheco and Rudy have joined.
          There's the feeling the house is a bunker. Phones ring.
          Television is on. LIPSYTE, taking notes, watching Walter
          Cronkite on TV. He crosses to Ali. Dundee's on the phone.
                             LIPSYTE
                       (reading)
                   Nixon, the Republicans, Boxing
                   Commission in New York, Cleveland
                   and L.A.
                       (a foregone conclusion)
                   But you're also getting attacked as
                   unpatriotic by the NAACP, Roy
                   Wilkins, Jackie Robinson, the New
                   York Times and Joe Louis...
          
          The expression on Ali's face is blank, as if he's accepting
          a pounding: he knows what it is; it's not a surprise.
          
                                                                    59.
          
          INT. GRANT PARK UNDERGROUND GARAGE - QUIET - NIGHT
          
          A very low ceiling; we're in a green-lit cavern with a low
          ceiling. Chauncey Eskridge and Ali wait. Ali's in the
          backseat of a 1961 Lincoln. Two FOI guards stationed at the
          distant ramps allow a Black Oldsmobile to pass.
          
          BOB ARUM
          
          a New York lawyer and promoter arrives and climbs out of the
          Oldsmobile. Ali opens the door...but doesn't get out...
          
                               ALI
                         (to Arum)
                     People are following me...
          
                               BOB ARUM
                     I got almost nowhere I can promote
                     a fight for you. Plus, I think
                     they're going to vacate you from
                     the crown.
          
                               ALI
                     What?
          
                                BOB ARUM
                     Yeah.   If you're convicted.
          
                               ALI
                     They gonna take away what no
                     fighter in the world can?
          
                               BOB ARUM
                     And New York may revoke your boxing
                     license.
          
                               CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                     You sure you want to do all this?
                         (politics)
                     Your next three to four years are
                     every heavyweight's prime. And
                     there are few of those years...
          
                               ALI
                     What 'bout Terrell?
          
                               BOB ARUM
                     We'll know if we can fight Terrell
                     in Illinois this afternoon.
                     Terrell's running his mouth. He
                     said if you're called, you should
                     serve...
          
                                                                     60.
          
                             ALI
                       (angrily)
                   Motherfucker. He got a deferment
                   for bein' too tall, or havin' flat
                   feet. Why don't he serve for me?
                   Tellin' me what I should do...
          
                             BOB ARUM
                       (to Ali + Eskridge)
                   I got to get you some fights.    Fast.
          
          Ali's quiet, not really listening anymore...
          
          INT. ILLINOIS BOXING COMMISSION - ALI - DAY
          
          wearing a suit and a narrow tie at a table in front of Daley
          machine apparatchiks. A bald man, angrily:
          
                             COMMISSIONER
                   You understand we could take away
                   your license to fight Terrell in
                   Illinois?
          
                             ALI
                   Yes.
          
                             COMMISSIONER
                   Are you prepared to apologize?
                   About your unpatriotic remarks that
                   you made?
          
                             ALI
                   Apologize? No.
          
                             COMMISSIONER
                   You said that you were the people's
                   champion.
          
                             ALI
                       (angry)
                   Yes, sir!
          
                             COMMISSIONER
                   Do you think you're acting like the
                   people's champion...?!
          
                             ALI
                   Yes, sir. I am not going to
                   apologize to you. This isn't a
                   courtroom. And I don't have to sit
                   here and answer your questions.
          
          Ali gets up and walks out on them.   Eskridge and NOI men in
          black suits follow.
          
                                                                      61.
          
          INT. CHICAGO OFFICE BUILDING - ALI + ENTOURAGE - DAY
          
          march through the lobby. Ali gives a walking interview.
          He's angry. He won't slow down.
          
                              ALI
                    I ain't draft dodgin'! I ain't
                    goin' to Canada. I ain't burnin'
                    my draft card. I ain't burnin' the
                    flag. I'm stayin' right here. And
                    you want to throw me in jail? Go
                    ahead. I'll do my time. I been in
                    jail four hundred years. I'll be
                    in jail four, five more. But I
                    ain't goin' ten thousand miles to
                    help murder and kill poor people
                    for you. 'Cause if I'm gonna die,
                    I'll die now, right here, fighting
                    you. If I wanna die. You my enemy,
                    not Vietcong or Chinese or Japanese.
                    You my opposer when I want freedom.
                    You my opposer when I want justice.
                    You my opposer when I want equality.
                    You want me to go somewhere for you,
                    but you won't even stand up for me
                    in America, for my rights and
                    beliefs, you won't even stand up
                    for me here at home.
          
          INT. THE HOUSTON ASTRODOME - CLOSE:   TERRELL - DAY
          
          ERNIE TERRELL is taller than Ali. The empty stadium has a
          scale and press at one end. Girls in cowboy hats and lone
          stars say we're in Texas. Ali is distracted.
          
                              ERNIE TERRELL
                        (getting on scale)
                    Tell Clay he can get on after me.
          
                               ALI
                    What...?
          
                              ERNIE TERRELL
                    Get on the scale after...
          
                              ALI
                        (cuts in)
                    What you call me...?
          
          Terrell wrongly thinks there's psychological value in
          provoking Ali.
          
                                                                      62.
          
                             ERNIE TERRELL
                   Only thing I knows you as:   Cassius
                   Clay!
          
                             ALI
                       (infuriated)
                   Announce it right here or from flat
                   on your back!
          
          Ali throws a punch that doesn't land because he's separated.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   What's my name?!?
          
          CLOSE ON ALI
          
          something else in his eyes.
          
          INT. THE HOUSTON ASTRODOME - TERRELL - NIGHT
          
          hit FOUR TIMES by Ali:   WHAM, WHAM, WHAM, WHAM!   In the
          glaring lights...
          
                             ALI
                   What's my name, motherfucker?!
          
          And Ali flicks out punches...disorienting Terrell.   The BELL.
          
          GIRL IN BANGLED MINISKIRT STARTS 15TH ROUND
          
          WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Ali hits him five times...Terrell ties
          him up. Ali throws him off, slips two jabs and snaps his
          left into Terrell's face.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   What's my name?
          Ali, at the apex of his athletic skills, fires six- or
          eight-punch combinations and then changes direction. Ali
          shoots jabs and hooks going backwards; every move and set of
          combinations is a dance. Ali's never been as light on his
          feet, as fast, as complex as in this fight. Like any moment
          of greatness, we want it to last forever... Then, Ali
          throws a 17-punch combination.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   WHAT'S MY NAME?!
          
          ...that burns down Terrell. Terrell starts to fall. Ali
          moves away. He doesn't want it to end. Sportswriters don't
          like it. Half the fans don't like it. Ali defies both
          their sensibilities and their politics.
          
                                                                      63.
          
          TERRELL'S
          
          face is battered.    Ali SLAMS in SHOTS.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                          (shouted)
                      My name?! WHAT'S MY NAME?!
          
          The BELL ends the savage pounding. Ali in the middle of the
          ring, glorying in opposition and triumph.
          
          INT. HOUSTON COURTROOM - ALI - DAY
          
          with Eskridge and his other attorneys. The courtroom's
          packed. In the back we spot Joe Smiley, anonymous in the crowd.
          
                                ALI
                          (to Judge)
                      If the court would give me my
                      sentence right now instead of
                      waiting and stalling.
          
                                JUDGE INGRAHAM
                          (obliges)
                      My pleasure. The jury has found
                      you guilty of refusing induction
                      into the United States armed forces.
                      I sentence you to the maximum
                      sentence allowable...five years'
                      imprisonment and a fine of ten
                      thousand dollars.
                          (pause)
                      Fast enough? Your attorney will
                      lodge an appeal. While you're out
                      on bond, I order your passport
                      surrendered. I'll not have you
                      benefitting yourself by fighting
                      abroad...
          
          INT. HOUSTON COURT, FOYER - ALI - DAY
          
          on his way out of the building.    Media is held at the other end.
          
          CLOSER - ALI
          
          looks dazed, not sure how to act on the way out of court.
          Oddly, he shakes hands with each of a half a dozen white
          Houston Bailiffs. It's as if, benumbed by the verdict, he
          seeks human contact. The only contact available, ironically,
          is with the officers of the court that just convicted him.
          
                                                                       64.
          
          EXT. 79TH STREET, CHICAGO, 1968 - ALI - DUSK
          
          Time has passed. It's winter. Snow's on the ground. He's
          in a car coat and a hat with a hooded sweatshirt underneath.
          Street lights are on. Traffic's slight. He walks through
          the whiteness as new snow falls.
          
          ECU:   ALI
          
          under the hat brim, his gaze is internal, as it was in the
          opening in Miami.
          
          BURNED-OUT STOREFRONT
          
          with icicles from Fire Dept. water. His work boots stop
          deep in the new falling snow...vanishing in the WHITEOUT...
          INT. N.O.I. BAKERY, CHICAGO - WHITE SILK SCARF - DAY (FLASHBACK)
          
          in Ali's hands. He leans across a white showcase of bakery
          goods. It's cold outside; warm inside. It smells of bread
          and coffee. BELINDA BOYD reacts.
          
                                 ALI
                       Watch now...
          
          He makes a fist, balls the scarf up, and puts it in the
          hollow of his fist.
          
                                 ALI (CONT'D)
                           (offering)
                       Blow on it...
          
          She blows on it. She's not quite eighteen, six feet tall;
          there's a supremely confident expressiveness about her. Her
          gestures are large. He opens his hand. The scarf is gone.
          She instinctively looks over at his other hand. Nothing's
          there. His eyes go wide in mock fright at the mysterious.
          
                                 ALI (CONT'D)
                       This spooky! Don't get scared...
          
          She laughs. How'd he do it? He makes a fist again, puts
          his thumb in the hollow. And slowly pulls the scarf out...
          
                                 BELINDA
                           (laughs)
                       See, you don't need to fight no more...
          
          He gives it to Belinda. She ties it around her neck. Ali
          looks at her. On a cold and dark afternoon, the windows are
          steamed and the bakery seems a fine refuge.
          
                                                          65.
          
                             ALI
                   So what's fresh, girl?
          
                             BELINDA
                       (smiles)
                   Everything fresh!
          
                             ALI
                       (smiles)
                   What's the freshest of the freshest?
          
                             BELINDA
                       (smiles)
                   Doughnuts just came out...
          
                             ALI
                       (holds up the
                        doughnut)
                   Feed me those things, I gotta come
                   back as a wrassler.
                       (a ring announcer)
                   645 pounds. I'd still be
                   pretty...but I be fat pretty...
          
                             BELINDA
                   You don't remember when you met me
                   once before...long ago...
          
                             ALI
                       (joking)
                   I remember something...   Wha's your
                   name?
          
          She slaps his arm.
          
                             BELINDA
                   You know my name! You came to my
                   school, right before you win the
                   title. Interviewed you for the
                   school paper. I was eleven.
          
                             ALI
                   You had a long braid...
          
                             BELINDA
                   Yeah! You called me little Indian
                   girl, then.
          
                             ALI
                   That was you?
          
                             BELINDA
                   I loved you then, like all those
                   kids. I never stopped. I still do.
          
                                                                      66.
          
          INT. NATION OF ISLAM ASSEMBLY - ALI + BELINDA - DAY (FLASHBACK)
          
                              ELIJAH MUHAMMAD'S VOICE (OVER)
                        (finishes)
          
          The African-American Albert Speer-regimented seating breaks
          up. Ali's wearing a black suit, a white suit and white tie.
          As he drifts through the crowd, approaching him is Belinda
          in a white caftan and a white satin turban with gold
          earrings. It feels like they are an official couple,
          eugenically chosen mates.
          
          ECU:    THEIR HANDS
          
          join.
          
          MACRO CU:    SHOULDERS
          
          touch. She turns and leans back slightly against him...
          Their thighs touch.
          
          EXT. 79TH STREET, CHICAGO - DUSK INTO NIGHT
          
          We walk past the bakery. It's closed.     Ali crosses the grey
          guttered street and exits into...
          
          INT. ALI'S SINCLAIR STATION, BACK OFFICE - ALI - NIGHT
          
          enters. CTA bus passes. Eskridge is there, waiting for him.
          Ali takes a coffee in a paper cup and grabs a Danish.
          
                                ALI
                      You see the Ellis-Quarry fight?
          
                                CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                      Yes... We'll be in front of the
                      U.S. Court of Appeals next month.
                      We'll lose. Then we appeal to the
                      Supreme Court.
          
                                ALI
                      Ellis the champ? Man. I beatin'
                      on him since we was sixteen. They
                      give Ellis to Joe Frazier?
                      Frazier'll kill him. Then they out
                      of juice. Where's the gate? So
                      they gotta let me fight. I fight
                      Ellis in a phone booth...middle of
                      Times Square...you think that draw
                      a crowd?
          
                                                                   67.
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   Draw a crowd or not draw a crowd,
                   Muhammad, is NOT going to make a
                   difference with your boxing
                   licenses. They don't want you to
                   fight.
                       (so much for speculation)
                   ACLU's handling your case against
                   the New York Boxing Commission.
                   They discovered New York's got
                   actual ex-murderers and ex-rapists
                   currently licensed to fight. But
                   revoked yours...?
          
                               ALI
                   Tijuana?
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   No. State Department refused
                   permission for the one-hour visa.
                   No fight in Tijuana. Look...
          
                             ALI
                   Can't fight here. Can't fight
                   outside the country...
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   I know people in the restaurant
                   business...want to start up a chain.
                   Muhammad Ali's "Champ
                   Burger"..."Muhammad Malts," "Fist
                   Full of Fries"...all of that.
          
          They start out towards the gas pumps.
          
                             ALI
                   Why I want to be in the restaurant
                   business?!
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   'Cause you need the money.
          
                             ALI
                   How much all this gonna cost?
          
                               CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   Too much.    They do that to you, too,
                   you know.
          
          They seek to destroy every facet of Ali's life. Ali knows
          that. As they pass the pumps. Some customers recognize him.
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE (CONT'D)
                   Where you goin'?
          
                                                                     68.
          
                             ALI
                       (to customers)
                   Look out!
          
                             CUSTOMER
                   Hey, champ!
          
          And Ali pretends to start sparring. The working men laugh.
          One is brave enough to raise his hands, too. Ali smiles and
          trades a couple of phantom slaps. It breaks off. He made
          their day. He shakes each of their hands. His spirit's
          raised, he walks off. Chauncey watches this ritual...
          
          INT. CHICAGO APARTMENT, ALI + BELINDA'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
          
          hands and skin and faces against white in bed.   So close we
          are intimately inside the moment...
          
                             ALI
                   Not then...
          
                             BELINDA
                   First time? 1961...Sister Khalilah
                   introduced you at assembly. You
                   said you would be heavyweight
                   champion of the world by the time
                   you were twenty-one!
          
                             ALI
                   I always tell the truth...
          
                             BELINDA
                   I was eleven. I interviewed you
                   for the student paper. You called
                   me "little Indian girl," 'cause I
                   wore my hair real long, in a
                   braid...I told you..."Man, you
                   scribble! You can't even write!
                   You ought to go back to school
                   until you do it better..."
          
          Laughing, he starts poking her in the ribs, and she turns
          onto him. She's six feet tall, he's six-three. He grabs
          her wrist. She wrestles him down on the large bed until
          there's a NOISE, and Belinda separates from Ali and
          approaches a smaller bedroom to replace the bottle their
          daughter, MARYUM, threw out of her crib. As she exits, MOVE
          IN on the crib in streetlight and we HEAR Jimi Hendrix's
          bottleneck instrumental part of "All Along the Watchtower."
          It makes us feel the child in the crib is threatened, and
          that takes us INTO...
          
                                                                      69.
          
          INT. COLLEGE HALL - ALI
          
          in a black leather jacket with a white shirt and skinny tie,
          speaking to an audience of college students, white and black,
          some Asian and Latino.
          
                              JIMI HENDRIX
                        (from "All Along the
                         Watchtower")
                    "There must be some kind of
                        way outta here,
                    said the joker to the thief..."
          
          Bingham waits in the wings. Applause. Ali joins Howard and
          a small group watching a portable TV...
          
          TV:   "DAYS OF RAGE"
          
          occurring on Chicago's North Clark Street. Off-screen we
          HEAR police sirens. On TV, Weathermen attack lines of
          Chicago police! The cops fall back.
          
                              JIMI HENDRIX (CONT'D)
                    "There's too much confusion,
                    I can't get no relief.
                    Business men, they drink my wine,
                    plowmen dig my earth,
                    None of them along the line,
                    know what any of it is worth."
          
          INT. CHICAGO GYM - ALI - NIGHT
          
          trains in grey sweats to Hendrix. He flashes 60 sit-ups
          hanging off a table. He sweats profusely. He has no
          trainers. Bingham holds his legs. Ali seems heavier.
          
          The gym is grimy, filled with other boxers, a forest of
          heavy bags. Ali's one among other guys working out.
          
          ALI'S FACE
          
          grimacing through another set, trying to stay in shape,
          trying to retain skills going dormant.
          
                              JIMI HENDRIX
                    "No reason to get excited,
                    the thief, he kindly spoke.
                    There are many here among us,
                    who feel that life is but a joke."
          
          Then, he's slow on the heavy bag.   Sparring alone in the
          ring... Everyone ignores him.
          
                                                                       70.
          
          INT. ALI'S GAS STATION - ALI'S TV:   NEWS - DAY
          
          REVEAL Ali + Bingham watching the 1968 Olympics. NOW, Tommy
          Smith and John Carlos bow their heads and raise fists in
          black power defiance, instead of acknowledging the national
          anthem.
          
                             JIMI HENDRIX
                   "But you and I, we've been
                       through that,
                   and this is not our fate.
                   So let us not talk falsely now,
                   the hour it's getting late..."
          
          And the coverage cuts to George Foreman with a small
          American flag in his hand. Then, it flashes back to Ali in
          the ring with Sonny Liston at his feet. And Ali coming out
          of the Illinois Boxing Commission, angry. Dead Black
          Panthers, Fred Hampton and Matt Clark murdered by police in
          Chicago. And Malcolm X and Ali together. The meaning of it
          is clear: MUHAMMAD ALI IS THE WARRIOR SAINT IN THE REVOLT
          OF THE BLACK ATHLETE IN AMERICA. On Ali watching, as a
          phone rings...
          
                             JIMI HENDRIX (CONT'D)
                   "All along the watchtower,
                   princes kept the view,
                   while all the women came and went,
                   barefoot servants, too."
          
          EXT. MEMPHIS MOTEL - CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE - DAY
          
          speaks to Ali on a pay phone on ground level.
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   ...struck out at the appellate
                   level in New Orleans. So we're
                   heading back to the Supreme Court...
          
                                                      INTERCUT WITH:
          
          INT. ALI'S GAS STATION - ALI - DAY
          
                             ALI
                   Thought we already got turned down
                   there.
          
                                                                       71.
          
          EXT. MEMPHIS MOTEL - CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   I'm petitioning on a conscientious
                   objection basis. Religious belief.
                   We'll petition that your sincere
                   religious belief prohibits you from
                   shooting people. I believe they'll
                   hear that...
          
          A fast car drives by, distracting Ali momentarily.   Then,
          Ali focuses 100% on...
          
                             ALI
                   Where the money come from, Chauncey?
                   Herbert tell me I'm runnin' on
                   empty. Put aside "how do that
                   happen"? Licenses all revoked. No
                   passport. I can't fight here.
                   Can't fight abroad.
                       (beat)
                   And what happen if I lose the
                   Supreme Court?
          
                             CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE
                   It's all over. You go to jail for
                   five years.
          
          There's no response from Ali.   Ali hangs up, looks the other
          way, lost in thought.
          
          EXT. MEMPHIS MOTEL ROOM - CHAUNCEY ESKRIDGE - DAY
          
          hangs up the phone. Looks up. Starts to dial another
          number. A sound CRACKS OPEN THE NIGHT...
          
          Chauncey runs up the stairs to the second-floor balcony to
          join...
          
          EXT. MEMPHIS MOTEL, BALCONY - JESSE JACKSON - DAY
          
          cradling Martin Luther King, Jr. in his arms. People SCREAM.
          King involuntarily spasms. Under King, dark blood pools
          like crude oil. Eskridge, ANDREW YOUNG and JULIAN BOND
          point into the Memphis afternoon.
          
          EXT. ALI'S APARTMENT BUILDING, ROOFTOP (CHICAGO) - CITY AT
          NIGHT
          
          as if they were pointing at a burning fire, sirens, blue
          police flashers, an isolated gunshot. And REVEAL Ali on a
          rooftop, in sweatpants, sweatshirt, SHADOWBOXING while...
          
                                                                       72.
          
                             JIMI HENDRIX
                   "Outside in the cold distance,
                   a wild cat did growl,
                   two riders were approaching,
                   and the wind began to HOWL!"
          
          He leaves off to look into the distance. The agility, what
          he was with Terrell, isn't there. He exhales in time with
          punches HUH, HUH, HUH...Ali's struggling to hold onto
          diminishing sharpness. Police lights. Looting? He
          contemplates the fabric of the city ripping itself apart
          while...
          
          INT. JEFFREY STREET HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - FRAZIER RIPS APART
          ELLIS - NIGHT
          
          on ABC. REVEAL Ali with Maryum in his arms watches the
          fight...an activity from which Ali, the resident genius on
          the planet, is excluded.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   Ellis doesn't belong in there.
          
                             ALI
                       (curt)
                   Man give him a shot, he took a shot.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   I saw Bundini in New York.
          
                               ALI
                   How's he?
          
                             BINGHAM
                   ...bad shape. You better get your
                   belt b-b-back...
          Belinda brings coffee to Bingham...
          
                             BELINDA (O.S.)
                   She's got to be done with that bottle.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You call your parents, Ali?
          
                              BELINDA
                    No, he didn't. I told them about
                    the one on the way...myself.
                        (moves to the kitchen)
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You p-p-p-promised you'd call them.
          
                                                                    73.
          
                             ALI
                   I'll call 'em, I'll call 'em...
                       (re: the baby)
                   May-may! It go in one end and come
                   out the other.
          
                             BELINDA
                   You wanna try changing her, for the
                   experience?
          
                             ALI
                   You so much better at it, mama.
          
          Belinda takes Maryum. FRAZIER holds his arms up in victory,
          a formality of applause from the half-empty Garden.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (to Maryum)
                   Maaan...Joe Frazier can't talk,
                   can't up the gate, can't fill the
                   arena. They gotta let me fight.
          
                             BELINDA
                   That happen, you promise me you put
                   some new people around you.
          
          Ali crosses to kitchen phone.
          
                             ALI
                   I need Angelo, Rudy, Ferdie --
          
                             BINGHAM
                   Ali, she's talkin' about "Brother"
                   Herbert.
          
          Ali stops. Between him and Belinda, this is important:   her
          solidarity is with her husband, not with the NOI.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Where are they when we need them?
                   You got Gene Kilroy droppin' off
                   groceries like charity. Borrowin'
                   money from my folks. So...?
          
          As Ali contemplates what she's said, we HEAR...
          
                             HOWARD COSELL (V.O.)
                   What are your feelings about up-
                   and-coming Ken Norton?
          
                                                                       74.
          
          INT. FRAZIER LOCKER ROOM (POST FIGHT) - COSELL + FRAZIER -
          NIGHT
          
                             FRAZIER
                       (still sweating)
                   Norton's big and strong, but...
          
          Someone's talking into Howard's period headset.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (interrupting)
                   Hold on one second...we have a
                   caller. Go ahead.
          
                             ALI (V.O.)
                       (into phone)
                   Cosell? This Muhammad Ali.
          
          A still photo of Ali in an iris appears superimposed on
          monitors.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Go to Georgia or Alabama or Sweden.
                   Everybody know I'm the champ. The
                   crown is a lie. I know it's a lie.
                   Joe Frazier know it's a lie. It
                   time for everybody to stop lying
                   and tell the truth.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Let's tell it like it is. With
                   your court and boxing problems,
                   Muhammad, can you get a fight promoted?
          
                             ALI
                   I ain't interested in the paycheck,
                   I'd fight Joe Frazier for free in a
                   phone booth in Times Square, if I
                   wasn't broke. I still will.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Did you say you were broke?   How
                   can you be broke?
          
          Ali hesitates.
          
          INT. ELIJAH MUHAMMAD'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT
          
          Elijah Muhammad reacts to the interview on television.
          There's a formality to Elijah Muhammad, even at his kitchen
          table.
          
                                                                       75.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                      You've made more money than all
                      previous heavyweight champions
                      combined. What about your
                      management? Surely they have
                      provided for you...
          
                                ALI
                      I'm saying it's time for everybody
                      to quit lying! Muhammad Ali is the
                      champ! I have to, I'll get the
                      fight on myself.
                          (beat)
                      And if they offer me money, I ain't
                      gonna turn it down.
          
          CROSSCUT:    Elijah turns to an aide.
          
                                ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
                      Get me my son, Herbert, on the
                      telephone!
          
          INT. RUNDOWN CHICAGO GYM - ALI - DAY
          
          training. There is NO entourage with him. Ali hits the
          heavy bag. He doubles up the left jab on the taped-together
          heavy bag. Sweat stains his sweats.
          
          EXT. U.S. STEEL - ALI - DAY
          
          runs through tall reeds in the abandoned industrial
          landscape, ending at the lakefront and the cold, open sky
          and water. He's breathing hard, struggling against time to
          hold onto shape and prowess. He seems vulnerable against
          the open sky and water.
          
          INT. TEMPLE #2 - NIGHT
          
          Elijah Muhammad is at the lectern ringed by Fruit of Islam
          Guards. HERBERT is behind him.
          
                                ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
                      Mr. Muhammad Ali desires to do that
                      which the Holy Qur'an teaches him
                      against. I am, therefore,
                      suspending Mr. Ali from the
                      practice of Islam. He may no
                      longer appear in temple, pray or
                      teach, or have any conversation
                      with any Muslim whatsoever.
                      Furthermore...he may no longer use
                      the name of Muhammad Ali.
                      Henceforward, he will revert to his
                      old slave name, Cassius Clay.
          
                                                                      76.
          
          INT. JEFFREY ST. HOUSE, KITCHEN - ALI - DAY
          
          sits at the table. A deep vacancy is beginning to be there
          we've never seen before. May-may makes a mess.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Muhammad...?
          
                             ALI
                   You can't call me that no more.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Hell, I can't. I'm defying them by
                   talking to you. And being with you.
          
          MOVE CLOSER and CLOSER into Ali's eyes. He's oblivious.
          Belinda's pregnant again. She says something to him. Ali
          can't hear. She says it again, louder. Ali doesn't look at
          her. OVER ALI onto the Formica table with Log Cabin syrup
          and powdered sugar and ceramic salt and pepper shakers SEEN
          in his ECU, disconnected, depressed, withdrawn...
          
          INT. FLOPHOUSE, FOYER - ALI + BINGHAM - DAY
          
          entering, concerned and urgent...
          
                             ALI
                   Whyn't you call an ambulance or a
                   doctor?
          
                             LANDLADY
                       (following behind)
                   Wouldn't let me. Said he knew
                   you...and to call you, Mr. Ali...
                   He's not been out for three days...
          
          Ali's up the stairs, down the corridor and takes the key
          from the lady and opens the door. It's a dump. Rotting
          food, something burned on the stove. On the floor, wrapped
          in a threadbare bedspread, half in and out of the bathroom,
          which is foul, is Bundini, sleeping off a drunk.
          
                              BINGHAM
                   Bundini!
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (opens his eyes; half
                        sits)
                   Watchu' doin' here? Gimme that
                   short dog!
          
          Ali -- his concern crashes. He detests the type Bundini
          resembles. He throws a half-empty half-pint of Old Taylor
          against the wall. It splatters...
          
                                                                      77.
          
                             ALI
                   What's wrong with you, man?!
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Nothin' wrong with me!
          
          Ali goes to the curtains and pulls them back.    Bundini,
          blinded...
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                   What that?!!!
          
                             BINGHAM
                   A mystery...d-d-d-daylight...
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (shielding his eyes)
                   Leave me alone!
          
                             ALI
                   I leave you alone.   You called me!
          
                             BUNDINI
                   That were a week ago...
          
          Ali grabs Bundini's arm and twists it and pushes his sleeve
          up. Bundini tries to pull his arm away. Ali is way
          stronger. Track marks up and down Bundini's arm. Ali slaps
          Bundini on the side of the head. SMACK! He slaps him again.
          SMACK!
          
                             ALI
                   What you shame yourself like this
                   for, maaan...?! Why you shame
                   yourself?!
          
          Bundini flails back with his arms.    Ali leans in and SMACKS
          him again.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Lemme alone!
                       (shouts)
                   I'm flyin'! The Sky Chief talk
                   through me. I know the word!
          
                             ALI
                   You know "low." You so low, the
                   curb look like up!
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (demonstrates)
                   Yeah? The king gotta go home to
                   his throne! From the root to the
                   fruit...!
          
                                                                          78.
          
                             ALI
                   Those rhymes is old.    Forget 'em.
          
                             BUNDINI
                       (demonstrates more)
                   God don't care about you! Don't
                   care about me! In all of everything,
                   we mean nothin'. He don't know us.
                   We be. And that's the onliest
                   thing he did. And that's good
                   'cause that's why we free. But
                   free ain't easy. Free is real.
                   And realness is a motherfucker...
                       (low; almost spooky)
                   It eats raw meat.
                       (beat)
                   It walk in its own shoes.
                       (beat)
                   It does not waver...
                       (pause)
                   Yeah...
          
          There's a pause in the room.    Bundini crashes.    He starts
          crying, unabashedly...
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                   I sold your belt for five hundred
                   dollars to a barber on Lenox Avenue.
                   That's how low I did you. I'm
                   filled with weakness and got a
                   crazy mind. That belt say you the
                   Heavyweight Champion of the World.
                   Five hundred dollars and I put it
                   into my arm. That's what I called
                   to tell you...
          
          Ali leans back against the wall...the last vestige, gone.
          
                             BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                   ...heard 'bout the Nation, all that
                   court stuff.
          
                             ALI
                       (absent)
                   Yeah.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Forgive me, Muhammad.    Take me back...
          
                            ALI
                   No. There's no "back" to take you
                   to...
          
                                                                       79.
          
          Ali gets up -- Bundini has been taken from him, too -- and
          leaves.
          
          INT. "EL" - ECU FRONTAL:    ALI - NIGHT
          
          and beyond the side of Ali's face, elevated through the
          slums and decrepit tenements of the south side of
          Chicago...the mean alleys and decaying back porches. Men
          gathered around 50-gallon steel drums, burning wood for
          warmth. Everything is corrupted or has left him.
          
          FRONTAL:    ALI
          
          staring into nowhere.
          
          REVERSE:    PAST ALI
          The city recedes. Vectors, in perspective, carry structures,
          buildings away. The sky is grey, going to blue. The city
          flees and SUDDENLY disappears as we race into the dark
          tunnel of subway. Ali's lost in the depths of attempting a
          calculation. He can't do that for which he has a genius
          beyond other men...
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      ...you can't do what you do best in
                      the world. And how you feed your
                      family? From prison? Who take
                      care of your kids? And is Allah,
                      is God with me?
          
          And he's been exiled from the belief system that explained
          the universe to him. SUDDENLY LIGHTS slash across his face
          in the white-tile North Avenue station. BEYOND, ghostlike
          working men and two heavyset women enter. Ali turns aside
          to prevent being recognized. It's the first time he's ever
          avoided the public. The train lurches forward...
          
          OVER ALI:    WHITE LIGHT
          
          screams away from us. Red reflects off the rails past Ali's
          face as we descend deeper into the tunnels.
          
          EXT. NEAR BROADCAST TRUCK - COSELL - NIGHT
          
          steps out of the truck. There is a small crowd of people
          who turn as ALI pulls up in a convertible. He's solemn for
          a moment. Then he's out of the car...
          
                                ALI (O.S.)
                      A thousand dollars to the man who
                      brings me Howard Cosell's toupee!
                      Dead or alive!
          
                                                                    80.
          
          Reveal Ali next to his car.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (loud)
                   Don't bother me. I'm a world-
                   famous broadcaster and you're an
                   ex-champion with diminished skills.
                   I can't be seen you, it would be
                   calamitous to my reputation.
          
          EXT. NEAR BROADCAST TRUCK - ALI + COSELL - LATER
          
          alone in the convertible parked in a distant corner of the lot.
          
                             ALI
                   Put me on, Howard.
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Muhammad, I'd do anything for you.
                   But I got bosses who only give a
                   damn about Nielsen ratings.
          
                             ALI
                   I guarantee...it will be a
                   historical and momentous night!
          
          INT. ABC-TV STUDIO
          
          Ali being interviewed by Howard Cosell in the "Wide World of
          Sports" set. We've entered mid-scene...
          
                             ALI
                   ...what Heavyweight Champion of the
                   World? I'm not the champ. I am
                   retired, finished, out of the game.
                   And I ain't gonna let myself grieve
                   and suffer none. But I know I will
                   not fight again...
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   I thought you were resolute in your
                   resolve to regain your crown...
          
                             ALI
                   If tomorrow they say: "We want you
                   to fight Joe Frazier. Madison
                   Square Garden. Millions and
                   millionses of dollars. Here's your
                   license back." I will tell them:
                   "I am sorry, but I am done."
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   What about Frazier?
          
                                                            81.
          
                             ALI
                   You'll have to wonder...what me and
                   Smokin' Joe would have looked like.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   You surprise me, Muhammad...
          
                             ALI
                   Howard, you losing your hearing
                   along with your hair? Don't put
                   questions to it!
                       (beat)
                   I am through fighting. 'Cause I
                   got a bigger and more important
                   match comin' up. The U.S.
                   government. A heavier contender.
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Do you think you're going to jail?
          
                             ALI
                   I don't know, but it's going to be
                   a shocking and terrible fight. In
                   fact, they might wish they let me
                   stay in boxing.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Joe Frazier told me on this show he
                   would knock you out.
          
                               ALI
                    There you go, agitatin'.
                        (beat)
                    You ask Smokin' Joe what he been
                    smokin'?! Joe Frazier even dream
                    he can whup me? He better wake up
                    and apologize...
                        (pause)
                    But, if I WAS to jump in the ring
                    with Joe, here's what you might
                    see...
                        (recites)
                    Ali comes out to meet Frazier,
                        but Frazier starts to retreat;
                    If Frazier goes back an inch farther,
                        he'll wind up in a ringside seat;
                    Ali swings with a left, Ali swings
                        with a right.
                    Frazier keeps backin', but there's
                        not enough room.
                    It a matter of time before Ali
                        lowers the boom;
                    Now Ali lands with a right, what
                              (MORE)
          
                                                                    82.
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                        a beautiful swing,
                    But the punch lifts Frazier clean
                        out of the ring.
                    Frazier's still risin', but the
                        referee wears a frown,
                    'Cause he can't start countin' 'til
                        Frazier come down.
                    And Frazier's disappeared from
                        view. And the crowd is getting
                        frantic.
                    Then our radar stations pick
                        him up. He's somewhere over
                        the Atlantic.
                    Who would have thought when
                        they came to this fight,
                    That they would witness the
                        launching of a black satellite?
          
          There's laughter off-camera in the studio and a wry smile on
          Cosell's face.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   But don't wait for they fight.
                   'Cause it ain't never gonna happen.
                   You only can wonder and imagine...
          
          The phones in the master control booth and ringing off the
          hook...the public's reaction to Ali's Bre'r Rabbit routine.
          Ali used his ability to command presence in media to promote
          the only fight the public wants to see...
          
          EXT. CLAY HOUSE - CASSIUS, SR. - DAY
          
                             ALI (V.O.)
                   You want me to buy you a drink?
          Ali's dad sits on a crate, painting the door of a delivery
          truck. He looks up...Ali is there. Emotion wells up in
          both men. The younger "rebelistic" son, seeing his father,
          who is so like him. The older hep-cat who got cheated by
          life of his potential and promise. In this case, his boy,
          his boy's name, pride and reflected glory...
          
                             CASSIUS CLAY, SR.
                   I don't drink no more.
                       (squints at him)
                   You wanna fight?
          
                             ALI
                   I don't wanna fight no more.   Not
                   with you...
          
          As they embrace, Odessa comes out, watches them.
          
                                                                    83.
          
          EXT. BROAD STREET - PHILADELPHIA - DAY
          
          Ali stands on the street corner, shades, incognito. A gold
          Cadillac pulls up: JOE FRAZIER. He is wearing a lemon
          yellow cowboy outfit, Stetson hat, striped pants. Ali looks
          at him in disbelief.
          
                             ALI
                   Who dress you, Joe?   You look like
                   Dale Evans.
          
                               FRAZIER
                   Shut up.    Get in.
          
          Ali gets in, Frazier takes off. He sits sideways on the
          seat, steers with one finger, flicks on the radio: Isaac Hayes.
                             FRAZIER (CONT'D)
                   What the hell you in Philly for?
                   Philly my town.
          
                             ALI
                   To be closer to you, honey.
          
                               FRAZIER
                   Fuck you.
          
                             ALI
                   There be two undefeated heavyweight
                   champions! And they ain't fighting!
          
                             FRAZIER
                   I wanna fight you! Said it a
                   hundred times. The Man won't let
                   you fight no more. What you
                   complainin' to me for?
                             ALI
                   'Cause you gotta get behind this
                   and we gotta do this.
          
          Frazier screeches to a stop in the middle of Columbia Avenue.
          
                             FRAZIER
                   We..."gotta" do nothin'!!!
          
                             ALI
                   You wanna get this on, Joe?     You
                   and me? Or not?!
          
                             FRAZIER
                   What about your license?
          
                                                                     84.
          
                             ALI
                   I can fight in Atlanta.
          
                             FRAZIER
                   How's that? What about the Boxing
                   Commission?
          
                             ALI
                   Georgia ain't got no state boxing
                   commission. And Atlanta got a
                   black city council; a liberal
                   Jewish mayor, Sam something. It
                   all set. I do a prelim in Atlanta
                   with Jerry Quarry. But we got to
                   get the steamroller movin' now.
          
                             FRAZIER
                   What I got to do?
          
                             ALI
                   You announce that if I beat Quarry
                   you give me the title shot.
                       (puts it to him)
                   So what you say...maaan?
          
          Frazier stops in front of his renovated duplex in the North
          Philadelphia ghetto.
          
                             FRAZIER
                   My daddy was a sharecropper. I
                   worked in a slaughterhouse...right
                   on that corner. I came up from
                   nothing.
                       (raises fist)
                   What I got, I got with this. And I
                   already got the title. So I got
                   nothing to win and everything to lose.
          
                             ALI
                   But you know you ain't the champ yet.
          
                             FRAZIER
                       (looks at him)
                   Yeah..."yet."
                       (beat)
                   All right. You beat Quarry, I'll
                   get inna ring and fuck you up...
          
          They drive off.   After a moment, Frazier looks sideways at him.
          
                             FRAZIER (CONT'D)
                       (quieter)
                   You need any money or anything to
                   tide you by...?
          
                                                                         85.
          
                             ALI
                       (turns away)
                   I'm fine. Thanks.
          
          And Ali rests a hand on Frazier's shoulder, and they drive
          off like that.
          
          INT. FIFTH STREET GYM - ALI + LARRY HOLMES - DAY
          
          sparring. Ali's sweating more than we have seen him sweat
          before. It's pouring off him. It stains wet his grey
          sweatsuit. INTO HIS EYES, through the headgear...
          
          WIDER
          
          Bingham takes pictures. Sarria, Rudy and the media in force
          are there for the start of Ali's comeback.
          
          FROM BEHIND ALI'S HEAD GEAR
          
          Ali spots...a figure step through the door. It's Bundini.
          Ali, seeing everything all the time, reacts not at all,
          turns his back. Bundini is thin, drawn, stooped, but clear-
          eyed. Everyone turns. It takes tremendous courage for
          Bundini to walk to the ring, expecting another rejection.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   TIME!!
          
          Ali goes to Angelo in his corner.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE (CONT'D)
                   Weight's comin' down. 222.
          
          Ali first acknowledges Bundini.     Ali moves down the rope,
          scowls down at him.
                             ALI
                   What you want?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Take me back, boss.
          
                             ALI
                   You want me to take you back?
          
                             BUNDINI
                   I'm clean.
                       (beat)
                   And you a resurrection. This is
                   God's act. Anybody love poor
                   people and little people and
                   fucked-up people gotta be a prophet.
                             (MORE)
          
                                                                   86.
          
                              BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                    And the prophet is going home. You
                    the sun. Let me live in the light.
                        (pause)
                    Take me with, boss.
                        (beat)
                    ...I'll do anything.
          
          Ali considers this man: all jive and bullshit and also his
          shaman and resident poet.
          
                              ALI
                        (quietly)
                    You can't hit what you can't see.
          
          Bundini slowly comes alive, then:
                              BUNDINI
                        (quietly)
                    Float like a butterfly, sting like
                    a bee.
          
          They look at each other.
          
                              ALI/BUNDINI
                        (quietly)
                    Rumble, young man, rumble!
          
          INT. CITY AUDITORIUM, ATLANTA - ALI + QUARRY - NIGHT
          
          We've entered mid-fight in the second round. We're VERY
          CLOSE. Quarry has Ali against the ropes. Ali pushes him
          off. Quarry comes in again. Ali dances, feints and catches
          Quarry over his right eye with a jab thrown while going
          backwards!
          
          QUARRY
          
          shakes it off. Reorganizes. Throws two jabs, a right to
          the body and tries to follow it up with a left hook. Ali
          ties him up. The ref separates them. Quarry comes in again.
          Ali throws a left cross over Quarry's right, which Ali
          leaned away from, and adds two rapid, glancing jabs to the
          same spot. And Ali OPENS A CUT. The BELL sounds, ending
          Round Two.
          
          CROWD
          
          goes nuts, that part that's pro-Ali: Atlanta's black elite
          and scattered whites. And the thunderous noise becomes one
          sound, one momentum, cheering their warrior saint, their
          defiant champion's return. And their ROAR becomes
          THUNDER...a momentum unto its own, driving...
          
                                                                          87.
          
          ALI'S CORNER:    ALI
          
          can't wait for the bell to ring. He sucks in a huge breath
          through his nose and blows it out. Angelo applies Vaseline.
          
                               BUNDINI
                     You the man! You Superman! Ain't
                     no kryptonite in this ring tonight!
          
          The BELL sounds Round Three.
          
          INT. THE RING - OVER ALI
          
          Past him, hearing him, we ARE him. We think what he thinks;
          see what he sees. Quarry's corner worked on the cut. Ali
          feints a left and throws a left cross over Quarry's attempt
          to block it. Quarry comes in again. Ali's next three
          ripping left jabs almost like karate shots...all with a
          sharp snap at the point of impact...
          
          QUARRY'S EYEBROW
          
          streams blood...       Interposing himself between their arms...
          
          REFEREE
          
          stops the fight.       Irish Jerry Quarry damned by skin that
          cuts and bleeds.
          
          CROWD
          
          goes nuts! Their champion has returned. ALI throws his
          arms in the air. QUARRY'S arguing not to have the fight
          stopped. Now he appeals to Ali!
          
          CLOSE:    ALI + QUARRY
          Ali knows Quarry's anguish. They embrace. Ali says things
          to him. And for that moment they are an island. Ali and
          Quarry, their arms interlocked, are their own tribe. Two
          pugilists, no longer adversarial, a class unto themselves.
          Then...
          
          ALI'S
          
          picked up by Angelo. Bundini's run into the ring.       Ali's
          arrived. He is coming back.
          
          INT. MUHAMMAD'S DRESSING ROOM - ALI - NIGHT
          
          seated, being examined by Pacheco, his hands still taped.
          The dressing room's crowded. Belinda enters, embraces her
          husband. Then Ali hears a familiar voice. He sees Herbert
          Muhammad, along with the expressionless Joseph 13X and
          
                                                                    88.
          
          another NOI Man, have entered.
          
                             BELINDA
                       (low)
                   ...you don't need their management...
          
          Ali squeezes her hand...and Herbert quietly comes over.
          He's nervous.
          
                             HERBERT
                   As-Saalam Alaikum...Brother Muhammad...
          
                             ALI
                   All praise to Allah...
                       (a beat, and
                        softly...)
                   ...Alaikum Salaam...
          
          And people, feeling the awkwardness, give them room...moving
          out of earshot.
          
                             HERBERT
                       (beaming)
                   The Messenger has lifted the
                   suspension, Muhammad. Congratulations.
          
                             ALI
                   You saying I can be a Muslim again,
                   Herbert?
          
                             HERBERT
                   Yes.
          
                             ALI
                       (cold)
                   I never stopped. Like I never
                   stopped being champ.
          
                             HERBERT
                   I begged my father to reinstate you.
          
                            ALI
                   When? After I promoted Quarry
                   fight? After I won it?
          
                             HERBERT
                   We can get you Frazier.
          
                             ALI
                   I already got Frazier.
          
                             HERBERT
                   We can get you five million dollars
                   for Frazier.
          
                                                                      89.
          
                             ALI
                   Are we talking management, talking
                   money or talking religion?
          
                             HERBERT
                   When you...
          
                             ALI
                       (interrupts)
                   When I got leery and talked up how
                   come I'm broke, then came the
                   suspension. Now, you explain that
                   to me, my brother...?
          
                             HERBERT
                   It's my father...
                             ALI
                       (puts a hand on
                        his shoulder)
                   I love the Nation, Herbert. I love
                   Elijah Muhammad. But it don't own me.
          
          Herbert's convinced he's getting told "no."
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Now, you go on out. And you make
                   the Frazier deal.
          
          The reversal surprises Herbert; angers Belinda.
          
                             HERBERT
                   My brother!
          
          Ali stops him, keeps him distant.
          
                             ALI
                   Yeah...
          
          Herbert and Joseph 13X leave.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   You b-b-becoming a Christian?
                   Forgive and forget?
          
          Belinda stares at him, containing her fury. Ali confronts
          her look, frankly, then turns to get dressed.
          
          INT. THE DINING HALL - ALI - LATE AFTERNOON
          
          and Belinda, with new twin babies; Maryum; Dundee; Pacheco;
          Cassius, Sr.; Sarria; and Ali's entourage. They're all
          around long tables, eating dinner. A large sign over the
          kitchen counter with "Lana Shabazz' Ten Commandments"...like:
          
                                                                         90.
          
          #7 "Anyone bringing guestes in for dinner without prior
          notice will be awarded thwacks on skull with sharpe object."
          #8 "Please waite, Rome wasn't burnt in a day; it takes a
          while to burne the roaste." Lana Shabazz answers a phone
          and brings it to Ali. Ali's got one of the twins, feeding
          her a bottle and drinking from it, too.
          
                                                        INTERCUT WITH:
          
          INT. ABC WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS SET - COSELL - DAY
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                   Muhammad, you T.K.O.'ed 'em...
          
                             ALI
                   What are you talking about, Howard?
                   Quarry?
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (reads)
                   No. "The Supreme Court ruled today
                   in the case of the United States vs.
                   Cassius Clay, a.k.a. Muhammad
                   Ali..."
                       (looks up)
                   You won an 8-0 unanimous decision.
                   You're free.
          
          INT. THE DINING HALL - ALI - LATE AFTERNOON
          
          takes in the news, thanks Howard and hangs up. It is a
          shining moment after living under the threat of imprisonment
          for three-and-a-half years.
          
                               ALI
                   I'm free.
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   What are you talking about?
          
                             ALI
                   Supreme Court set me free.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   That's 'cause they know the king is
                   gonna go home to his throne. And
                   they know everybody's with you, now.
                   And they wanna be on the RIGHT side!
          
          INT. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN - WIDE - NIGHT
          
          A sea of glitter: the Black royalty of America in their
          '70's robes. Movie stars 20 rows back. Burt Lancaster is
          Cosell's color man. Frank Sinatra is working as a still
          
                                                                        91.
          
          photographer. In the press section are Plimpton types,
          Schulberg/Mailer types, Lipsyte, Cosell.
          
          MICROPHONE
          
          descends from the overhead lighting grid.   The announcer's
          hand takes it...
          
                               ANNOUNCER
                     Ladies and gentlemen, fifteen
                     rounds of boxing for the heavyweight
                     championship of the world...
          
          ALI looking out the hood of his robe, dancing, shaking it
          out, loosening up.
          
                               ANNOUNCER (CONT'D)
                     ...the contender and former
                     heavyweight champion of the world,
                     seeking to regain his title, from
                     Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali!!!
          
          Catcalls and boos. The other half is a comeback sound. It
          is a nation divided: pro-war right-wingers, Nixon supporters
          are for Frazier; the anti-war movement, celebrities, New
          York liberal establishment, blacks, Puerto Ricans and
          hippies are for Ali.
          
                               ANNOUNCER
                     And in the opposite corner, the
                     current heavyweight champion of the
                     world, Smokin' Joe Frazier...!
          
          The contentious roar diminishes only slightly for the announcer.
          
          ALI'S EYES
          deep in his focused concentration. His attention so arrow
          like it reminds us of the younger man in the Liston
          fight...pure purpose.
          
          THE RING
          
          ...only SILENCE as the referee's instructions are given in
          SLO-MOTION. Ali bounces on the canvas. We HEAR his feet
          shift, turn, dance...and his breathing, expectant. Here
          comes the return of what was unfairly taken: his heavyweight
          championship.
          
                                                      DISSOLVE TO:
          
                                                                              92.
          
          MID-FIGHT - ALI
          
          looks swollen,      out of breath. Something's wrong! Two solid
          Ali jabs and a      right hook connect. But they slow down
          Frazier not at      all. Joe Frazier, short and compact, like a
          pit bull, bobs      and weaves his way inside Ali's longer reach.
          
          ALI'S CORNER - DUNDEE + BUNDINI
          
          shouting instructions.        None get through.   Ali looks slow.
          Older.
          
          INT. RING - PROFILE:       ALI + FRAZIER
          
          Frazier, off his bobbing and weaving, launches his
          devastating left hook to Ali's head. Frazier is making the
          most of what he is: smaller. Ali clinches.
          
          VERY LOW:     FRAZIER + ALI
          
          The referee separates them. Both men throw and miss...Ali
          on the right, Frazier on the left. Ali throws a hard left
          that catches Frazier but doesn't stop him. Now Frazier
          connects with a wild left hook into Ali's cheekbone. THE
          UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS...
          
          OVERHEAD:     ALI
          
          is knocked down onto his knee. Ruled a slip, he stands
          immediately and continues. Ali, backed against the rope
          again, blocks shots, pushes Frazier into the middle of the
          ring...
          
          ALI SWINGS FRAZIER
          
          around.     But Frazier cranks his left.     ALI SEES IT COMING...
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      Hook's comin'. Lean back, man!
                      Move back! WORK LEGS...!
          
          But Ali's legs DON'T work fast enough. Frazier's hook
          CRASHES into Ali's face. Ali goes rubbery as he backs to
          the rope. Ali comes out and backs to the rope on the other
          side, with cartoon rubbery legs. But the mimicry is
          camouflage. He really is wobbling. The crowd is going wild.
          We HEAR everything, now.
          
          FRAZIER
          
          is wary. He doesn't trust Ali. He walks across the ring,
          allowing Ali to recuperate...THE BELL. Ali walks to his
          corner, drained...
          
                                                                         93.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL (V.O.)
                      Ali was out! He was out on his
                      feet. Joe almost had him. Frazier
                      must have thought Ali was playing
                      possum. 'Cause Ali's a clown.
                      Others have come in on Ali when
                      he's playing possum and gotten
                      knocked out.
          
          Ali saved himself with GUILE.
          
          ROUND FIFTEEN:
          
          They clinch. They separate. They both...as if mirror
          images of each other...crouch, looking for shots. Ali's
          right is down. Frazier's right is down. As they both rise
          up out of the crouch, Frazier's out of the box first. Ali's
          right is coming around. Frazier's left hook slams Ali
          across the jaw. Ali goes down. Half the crowd ROARS for
          Frazier. Ali gets right up and stands in the corner and
          takes the mandatory eight-count. The right side of his face
          is swollen like a balloon. They resume...
          
          OVERHEAD:    ANOTHER CLINCH
          
          Ali takes another right, but the ropes hold him up. Another
          left catches Ali. Frazier's face is a grotesque, swollen
          mask. He doesn't care.
          
          ALI
          
          is exhausted.    Labored breathing.     The crowd cheering Frazier.
          
          THEN THE BELL.
          
          Ali drops his arms. He knows he lost. Frazier raises his
          arms. He knows he won. Half the crowd cheers.
          
          INT. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, ALI'S DRESSING ROOM - ALI - NIGHT
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      Hell of a fight, champ...
          
          Not only have we seen Ali lose for the first time, not only
          do we see him bruised, but when a fighter's beaten,
          everybody who believes in him is beaten. Angelo's cutting
          the tape off his hands. Bundini places an ice pack on the
          back of his neck.
          
                              HANGERS-ON
                    They stole it from you! (etc.)
          
          Bundini's wise enough to say nothing.
          
                                                                      94.
          
                             ALI
                   Shut up! I lost.
                       (louder)
                   Get outta here...
          
          Rudy heard...
          
                              RUDY
                   Go on!   Everybody out!
          
          As they leave, the door reveals packed media outside.   Door
          closes. Now it's only the inner circle.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (to Pacheco)
                   Ferdie, take a look at this...
                       (to Ali)
                   It was still a hell of a fight.
          
                             ALI
                   Where's Belinda?
          
                             PACHECO
                   She fainted... They took her to
                   the aid station. She's okay.
          
          Pacheco looks at Ali's hand. It shakes. Pacheco looks at
          Ali's eyes and has him follow his finger.
          
                             ALI
                   My hands was in sand, Angie.     My
                   feet in water...
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   Maybe we shoulda had more time
                   between Blin and this, you
                   know...to get back into...
          
                             ALI
                   Woulda, shoulda, coulda...
                       (pause)
                   After three-and-a-half years,
                   this...from how far back...comeback is.
          
          Ali throws a water bottle. It shatters and splays wet down
          the wall. There is mature, deep-seated, dead-serious molten
          anger. Everybody in the room feels it.
          
          INT. CORRIDOR
          
          With Bundini, Bingham, Rudy and Sarria as a wedge, Ali
          drives through reporters on the way to Belinda. Press mob
          Ali...
          
                                                                      95.
          
                                PRESS
                      Were you robbed?
          
                               ALI
                      I lost. You lose, you don't shoot
                      yourself. The world goes on.
          
                                ANOTHER REPORTER
                      Joe said he didn't think you wanted
                      to fight him again...
          
                                ALI
                          (stops)
                      Oh, how wrong he is.
          
          INT. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, AID STATION - BELINDA - NIGHT
          sees Ali...the beating.       She begins crying.
          
                                  BELINDA
                      My God.    They killed you!
          
          Ali moves to her, followed by Bingham and Pacheco.     A
          doctor's approaching with a sedative in a syringe.
          
                                PACHECO
                      Get away from her.     What is that?
          
          Ali leans over, speaks softly.
          
                                ALI
                      I ain't dead, baby!     C'mon.
          
          Embracing her, his eyes connect with Dundee. Ali's Supreme
          Court victory is meaningless. It's drowned by the loss of
          what the political persecution took from him: his prime,
          his season that would have been his most brilliant.
          
          INT. SAN DIEGO SPORTS ARENA, ALI VS. NORTON I (2ND ROUND) -
          TWO FIGHTERS - NIGHT
          
          BLUR in SLO-MO.       Focus is beyond, to the crowd.
          
          OVER ALI:    OUT-OF-FOCUS KEN NORTON'S RIGHT FIST
          
          starts an arc...or jams towards us.
          
          RIDING NORTON'S FIST - SLO-MO
          
          towards Ali. We PASS crowd, the lighting grid above and
          SLAM into the side of Ali's jaw, and on the moment of impact...
          
                                                                       96.
          
          ECU:   X-RAY IMAGE - SLO-MO
          
          of Ali's jaw breaking, shearing, leaving an eighth-inch gap
          in the bone of the lower mandible...and becomes...
          
          CMS:   ALI
          
          taking the shot, covering and assaulting, covering with his
          left, which he turns into a jab, aggressively going after
          Norton.
          
          IMAGE TURNS TO WHITE AS...
          
          INT. SAN DIEGO SPORTS ARENA, ALI'S CORNER - WHITE TOWEL
          
          fills the frame. Go behind it as they shield Ali spitting
          blood into a bucket.
          
                                 ALI
                       I can move my jaw with my tongue.
                       He got me...
          
          Pacheco looks into his mouth.
          
                                 PACHECO
                           (concerned)
                       It's broke. I think...I think your
                       jaw's broke.
          
          Meanwhile, Ali spots...
          
          REFEREE
          
          curious about the activity in Ali's corner, starts over...
          
          PACHECO
          nods to Dundee. Dundee starts to reach. Ali snatches
          Angelo's hand holding the towel. Angelo's about to end the
          fight...
          
                                 ALI
                       Ain't stoppin' nothin'...!
                           (glares at them)
                       Nothin' stoppin'...!
          
          A BELL sounds and Ali goes out to fight in an OVERHEAD SHOT.
          
                                                      BURN OUT TO WHITE:
          
                                                                       97.
          
          INT. SAN DIEGO SPORTS ARENA, ALI AND HIS CORNERMEN +
          SECURITY - NIGHT
          
          leave the ring and another defeat, as they move up the aisle
          towards the locker room...
          
          INT. ALI'S WOODLAWN AVENUE HOUSE (CHICAGO), LIVING ROOM -
          ALI - DAY
          
          watching television. The place is a huge mansion on
          Chicago's South Side.
          
                               HERBERT
                    Now that Smokin' Joe's run out of
                    tomato cans to beat up, I finally
                    got Yank to commit to a rematch
                    with you in about six months.
                    Frazier said he'd be happy with
                    three mil...
                        (beat)
          
          WIDEN TO INCLUDE THE LIVING ROOM WITH BINGHAM, ALI'S
          TWINS -- RASHEEDA AND JAMILLAH -- MUHAMMAD, JR. AND MARYUM
          
                              HERBERT (CONT'D)
                    I'll fly to Jamaica and get Yank to
                    sign right after Joe beats this big
                    stiff.
                        (to TV)
          
          OVER ALI:    CONSOLE TV
          
          They watch the Frazier-Foreman fight from Jamaica amid the
          wonderful chaos generated by kids and their toys, who crawl
          all over Ali as if he were furniture. Frazier and Foreman
          are in the center of the ring... We SEE Don King in
          Frazier's corner.
          
                                ALI
                          (through still-wired-
                           together jaw)
                      Foreman call me one time after he
                      won the Olympics...
          
          Meanwhile, Frazier bobs and weaves, ducks and moves like he
          did with Ali. Joe throws a left hook, leaning forward with
          it. Before it lands, Foreman unleashes a hard right that
          jolts Frazier SIDEWAYS. Frazier throws another hook that
          misses. Foreman hits him with a combination of right and
          three lefts...two hooks and an uppercut that LIFTS FRAZIER
          OFF THE GROUND. Ali leans in to SEE...
          
                                                                         98.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                          (shouting)
                      DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER!
          
          ON TV:    THE RING
          
          Frazier stands. The referee does the mandatory eight-count.
          Foreman bangs Frazier into the corner and blasts him again.
          Frazier tries to muscle out of the corner. Foreman lifts
          and throws him back into the corner. Foreman's power is
          unreal. Frazier is the man who beat Ali. Now, Frazier
          feints and slides sideways, and Foreman hits him in the back
          of the head. Frazier goes down again. It is savage. Here
          is a new world champion: George Foreman.
          
                                BINGHAM
                          (wry)
                      B-b-be easy gettin' a Frazier fight
                      now. He ain't the champ of
                      anything except getting knocked down.
          
          INT. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN (ALI-FRAZIER II) - HANDS + ARMS -
          NIGHT
          
          grabbing. Holding. Ali's got Joe's powerful left tied up
          this time. A clinch. Separating. A punch. A hook.
          Clinching. They separate...
          
          OVER JOE:
          
          Ali, having Joe at the right range, hits him. Joe moves in.
          Ali DRAGS him closer and ties him up. They dance...
          
          THEIR BODIES
          
          Ali does a little shuffle, circles to keep Joe at hitting
          distance, lands a combination. Joe closes, but Ali won't
          let him in and ties up Joe. We hear a BELL and that's the
          end of the fight. Not a bang; a whimper.
          
          REFEREE
          
          holds up Ali's hand and mouths silently words we cannot hear.
          And as we MOVE CLOSER INTO ALI'S EYES, we see no exaltation.
          This is a victory, but a hollow one. It's a decision eked out.
          
          INT. NEW YORK COFFEE SHOP - WIDE
          
          The inner circle:    Ali, Pacheco, Dundee, Bundini, Bingham.
          
                               ALI
                      So.
          
                                                            99.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   So we only eked this one out. And
                   George Foreman makes Frazier look
                   like a sissy.
          
                             PACHECO
                   You see their fight?
          
                             HOWARD BINGHAM
                   You mean the Joe Frazier falling-
                   down lesson?
          
                             PACHECO
                   And Foreman is 24. You are 32
                   years old. I don't want to see
                   your head get turned into someone's
                   bull's-eye.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   ...but, you go? We're the corner,
                   same as always. But it ain't gonna
                   be easy.
          
                             ALI
                       (to Angelo)
                   You think I still got the tools?
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   You got the tools, Daddy.     But they
                   different.
          
                             ALI
                       (thinks; decides:
                        go)
                   Well, you better sharpen 'em up.
                   'Cause we goin' to Africa.
                             BUNDINI
                   The motherland. From the root to
                   the fruit. We gonna rumble...in
                   the jungle.
          
                             ALI
                   It's time to be heavyweight
                   champion of the world again.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Yeah, man!
          
          INT. NEW YORK PRESS CONFERENCE - DAY
          
                             DON KING
                   "Rumble in the Jungle!"     That's the
                   name I given it.
          
                                                                   100.
          
          Ali and Don King hold court with the press. Also there is
          George Foreman and his trainer, Dick Sadler, and his manager,
          Nilon.
          
                             DON KING (CONT'D)
                   A historical happening. This event
                   will show that the black man has
                   arrived on the world stage.
                   Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in
                   Kinshasa, Zaire.
          
          PRESS REACTIONS:
          
          where's Zaire?
          
                             REPORTERS
                   Don. Zaire? Why not Antarctica?
                   What's wrong with New York City?
          
                             DON KING
                   Because you miss the significance.
                   I dream, as Martin Luther King once
                   dreamt, that a man could be judged
                   by the content of his mind. This
                   is about black men helping black
                   men, overcoming four hundred years
                   of racial depression to the dawn of
                   a new day of liberation...financial
                   and otherwise.
          
          King getting really evangelistic...
          
                             DON KING (CONT'D)
                   It will raise up the spirit of our
                   inner cities. It will rise up and
                   fill with hope the souls, the
                   unrequited needs of the black
                   proletariat, that is, the
                   discouraged, dispirited, denigrated,
                   denizens of the demimonde, that is
                   called...the ghetto.
          
          Ali's looking at him in amazement.
          
                             ALI
                   Man, you crazy.
          
          Don King laughs. As the press digs King...MOVE ONTO Foreman,
          and here's what's wrong with all of this...we SEE that
          Foreman, eight years younger, two inches taller, almost as
          fast and seemingly twice as strong, is not beatable by
          Muhammad Ali. Foreman just doesn't hurt you, Foreman can
          kill you. How is Ali not going to get killed by this man
          
                                                                    101.
          
          with death in his eyes and indifference on his face?
          Meanwhile...
          
                                DON KING
                      Ten million dollars. With one
                      stroke of the pen, you split the
                      world's biggest emolumation of the
                      history of sports!
          
          Ali signs a contract; then Foreman.       Flashbulbs.
          
                                DON KING (CONT'D)
                      The "Rumble in the Jungle"!
          
          Don King bursts out laughing.
          
          EXT. KINSHASA AIRPORT, TARMAC - ROOF - PAST HEADS - DAY
          
          PUSH THROUGH people and SEE an Air Zaire DC-10 pulling in.
          A ramp is wheeled up. The plane stops taxiing. Zairian
          officials in safari suits, paratroopers with white helmets,
          LT. NSAKALA and hundreds of African, European and American
          media with cameras and lights approach. The hatch opens. A
          ROAR emerges from the right and left. We don't see the source.
          
          INT. AIR ZAIRE DC-10'S - ALI
          
          Belinda's behind him. Bingham's there, Bundini, Angelo
          Dundee, Sarria. As they crowd to the door, we're shooting
          OVER ALI starting down the ramp. He looks up. We don't see
          what he sees. We see only the crowd of people at the foot
          of the ramp, including Don King in a dashiki and the crowd
          on the tarmac.
          
          FRONTAL:    ALI
          
          looking ABOVE the receiving party. The ROAR again. He
          looks side to side, almost distracted from King and the
          officials. He waves. Distant CROWD ROAR increases.
          They're chanting something. We don't understand the words.
          It contains his name. Now...
          
          PAST ALI:    REVEAL A THOUSAND PEOPLE
          
          are beyond the receiving party. They're on the roof of the
          airport. They're sitting on balconies and fences. They're
          waving their arms. They're on every possible horizontal
          surface that can support weight. They're shouting in unison,
          a syncopated ROAR...his name and something else. Ali moves
          through the receiving party, as if in a trance, to get
          through the airport to the other side. Security tries to
          keep up...
          
                                                                   102.
          
          EXT. AIRPORT ENTRANCE + STREET - ALI
          
          emerges and reacts. He's electrified. Dundee, Bingham, and
          a few cops are with him. Everybody else got left behind.
          REVEAL 10,000 people are OUTSIDE the airport, cheering his
          arrival. Their cheer is thunder.
          
                             ALI
                       (to Zairian Official;
                        shouts)
                   What are they saying, man?!!!    Why
                   they saying that?
          
                             ZAIRIAN OFFICIAL #1
                   They say, "Ali, boma ye. Ali, boma
                   ye."
                             ALI
                   What's that mean?!   I don't understand!
          
                             ZAIRIAN OFFICIAL #1
                   It mean...!
          
                             ALI
                       (can't hear)
                   What?!
          
                             ZAIRIAN OFFICIAL #1
                       (has to shout)
                   It mean..."Ali, kill him! Ali,
                   kill him!"
          
          Ali moves forward. The Zairian Official and four cops fade
          back, nervous about being in so large a crowd. The crowd's
          a tidal wave, carrying Ali forward, supporting, never
          mobbing him.
          MUHAMMAD ALI
          
          is overcome. This is all for him. He is their hero. He
          defied the world's powerful. They tried and could not
          destroy him. His defiance made him their champion. And now
          he has come to contest his rightful title against the numb
          instrument of the all-powerful. He raises his arm, too, and
          shouts...
          
                             ALI
                   Ali, boma ye!
          
          Ten thousand voices carry it on the wind and take away Ali's
          breath.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Ali, boma ye!
          
                                                                     103.
          
          DON KING, ZAIRIAN OFFICIALS #1 + #2
          
          in the rear realize, as do we, this is NOT MERELY A BOXING
          MATCH.
          
          CUT TO:    INT. AIR ZAIRE DC-10 - NIGHT
          
          A towering man in denims with sequins blocks our view of the
          door as he walks out onto the ramp. Only now do we see
          BEYOND HIM a small welcoming party. Native African dancers,
          a big banner that proclaims, "Welcome, George Foreman," the
          Zairian paratroopers, media and a few dozen of the curious.
          
          FRONTAL:    GEORGE FOREMAN
          
          looks like "Superfly" on steroids. His entourage follows
          him down the ramp. DICK SADLER, tough and smart, is the
          Louis Armstrong of trainers. ARCHIE MOORE, crafty and wise,
          wears a blue shirt and blue pea-cap.
          
          If George Foreman wonders at the paucity of his reception,
          he doesn't let on.
          
          INT. ALI'S HOUSE, N'SELE - ALI - MORNING
          
          sits in EXTREME CLOSE-UP drinking coffee...lost in thought.
          He's somewhere else, puzzled, alone in his thoughts. He
          wears grey sweatpants, a thin-rubber long-sleeved T-shirt
          under his grey sweatshirt. He's oblivious to the Euro-
          modern furnishings. Then it's time, and he leaves...
          
          EXT. N'SELE COMPOUND - WIDE:    ALI
          
          enters from his bungalow. We SEE we're in a compound. They
          are white and severely truncated houses linked by sidewalks
          and too many large street lamps. As Ali starts to jog
          through this imitation of suburbia with the scale all wrong.
          It's like a Gulag in reverse for the rich and powerful to be
          within while keeping the rest of the country out. As Ali
          passes, REVEAL we are at the bank of the Congo River. As
          Ali starts his predawn run, across the river the first band
          of magenta tints the horizon and reflects molten on the water.
          
          TRACKING SHOT:    ALI + DUNDEE, SARRIA IN A PICKUP TRUCK - RED
          DAWN
          
          plus two trainers and the ever-present Zairian POLICEMAN, Lt.
          Nsakala. The early paints the red-earth ochre.
          
                                                                   104.
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      Fast. Six left jabs flash from his
                      chest and shoulder, followed by a
                      right hook and left and right
                      uppercuts.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                          (to himself)
                      Back up, maaan...
                          (weaves suddenly;
                           another voice)
                      ...you fast!
          
          Ali slides to the right and throws a left jab and hooks off
          the jab.
          EXT. KINSHASA ROAD - EMPTY ROAD - MORNING LIGHT
          
          Ali ENTERS, running. The road is lined with Mobutu's green
          billboards in French and English, proclaiming Zaire
          wonderful. A few kids emerge from behind the signs, coming
          out from between...and they trail Ali.
          
                                KIDS
                      Ali, boma ye!
          
                                ALI
                          (repeating)
                      Ali, boma ye George Foreman!
          
          And he throws a couple at an imaginary George Foreman.
          There are 15 to 16 kids, now.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      You out, sucker!
          Curious, Ali runs behind the green signs from where the kids
          came.
          
          ALI'S
          
          still jogging. Behind the signs, he becomes a magnetic
          attraction. People are surprised to see Ali. He's making
          their day. Euphoric kids parallel him, run with him, follow
          him...
          
          PAST ALI:
          
          the concrete-and-cinder-block walls to the dusty, bare
          ground are chromatic. Primary colors. Ethnographically
          interesting.
          
                                                                   105.
          
          ALI SEES interiors. Broken walls. No roof. No plumbing.
          People come from a ditch with a shower curtain for privacy,
          surprised to see Ali. Faces indifferent to squalor. This
          is the ethnographically "interesting" surface of what, in
          fact, is civic disintegration starting to occur... It is
          the human concomitant to 13 years of Mobutu kleptocracy.
          
          ALI
          
          looks at the backs of the signs. He and we realize the
          signs' purpose: to hide the makeshift plastic walls and
          rooms made from cardboard containers and oil drums from the
          foreigners traveling the road to Kinshasa. One TEENAGER
          WITH A WITHERED ARM and a big smile runs up...
          
                             TEENAGER
                       (broken English)
                   You beat them, Ali!
          
                              ALI
                   Foreman?   I kill him!
          
          He mimes knocking out Foreman. Something powerful is
          affecting Ali. We don't know what it is. Ali slows down...
          
          ...throws two lightning jabs and a hook. Ali reaches to the
          kid's head and pulls a coin. He flips it to another kid and
          walks on. A SECOND TEENAGER comes out and wants Ali to look
          at something around the back. He takes Ali's hand...and
          holds it. Ali complies. The entourage follows...
          
          AROUND CORNER:   KIDS' PAINTING ON WALL
          
          It's an imitation fight poster. Childlike caricatures in
          Basquiat-like brush strokes. Foreman's got crosses for eyes.
          He's out! Ali is victorious! His fist is raised. His
          cartoon face shouts his victory...the people's champion.
          There's more. There's knocked-out white policemen, knocked-
          out black soldiers, knocked-out landlords, knocked-out South
          Africa, knocked-out planes and tanks, knocked-out tse-tse
          flies...everything!
          
          So much, it means "ALL"...all expectation. This childish
          painting powerfully affects Ali. The kids look at him.
          It's still. Some kids in the back leap up in the air to see
          over taller heads what Ali's doing.
          
          ALI
          
          looks at individual faces. A grinning OLDER MAN with a blue
          transistor radio (we'll see him later). A smiling kid. A
          girl with no shoes. A teenage kid jumping up and down...all
          looking at him. Ali makes four pieces of rope appear. He
          rubs them together...
          
                                                                    106.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Shazaam!!!
          
          They become one. Everybody goes nuts. As Ali leaves, his
          eyes go back to the people and the painting...
          
          EXT. KINSHASA ROAD - ECU:   ALI'S FACE - MORNING (GREEN SCREEN)
          
                             ALI
                       (to himself)
                   ...even if I die here. If it kill
                   me, no matter what...I gotta win.
          
          Concentration has taken him into the athlete's zone, the
          state of unified awareness wherein dwells his total self-
          knowledge. And he knows the transaction: what they give
          him with their adoration, which he converts to power, is in
          exchange for what he means to them. And what he means to
          them is specific: he represents them in defying power and
          vanquishing what oppresses. He validates the existence of
          expectation, that struggle is possible...George Foreman,
          mute and unknowingly, represents disinterested power. Ali
          doesn't "accept" his obligation; he embraces it. It is his
          purpose, revealed. And he will never waver from it.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, ANTEROOM (KINSHASA) - ALI - DAY
          
          waits, sitting on a table edge in a corridor. Noise of a
          press conference setting. Howard Cosell crosses through,
          smoking. Bingham enters and gestures...they're ready. Ali
          waves off Bingham, stops Cosell...
          
                             ALI
                   Howard! How many you ugly
                   sportswriters in there got me over
                   Foreman? Don't lie.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (beat)
                   Some of us...Norman, me...are
                   worried. How you gonna dance
                   against George?? He's sparring
                   with a middleweight, training to
                   cut you off. He gets you against
                   the ropes, he can knock you out
                   with either hand.
          
                             ALI
                       (drops facade)
                   What's the odds?
          
                                                                   107.
          
                                HOWARD COSELL
                      Two-and-a-half-to-one. Against.
                      We're worried you're going to get hurt.
          
          No one thinks Ali will win.
          
          INT. INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, MEDIA CONFERENCE ROOM - CLOSE:
          ALI - DAY
          
                                ALI
                      This'll be the biggest upset since
                      Sonny Liston. I want all of you to
                      write it down! This fight is no
                      contest!
          
          We've jammed into the middle of Ali in a blast of braggadocio.
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      George Foreman is a big mummy.
                      I've officially named him "The Mummy."
          
          Laughter.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      George punches are like "Look out,
                      here come the left." Whomp!
                          (stiff-armed swing)
                      Here come the right! Whomp! Like
                      a Mummy. But "The Mummy" can't hit
                      what it can't see. I'm fast!
                      Gonna dance. Be all over George.
                      George is gonna feel he surrounded.
                          (beat)
                      And I done somethin' new for this
                      fight; I done rassled with an
                      alligator.
          Anticipatory laughter. They've had twelve years' experience
          of Ali's stand-up and know when a new routine's starting...
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      That's right!
                          (laughter again;
                           Ali almost loses it)
                      I have rassled with an alligator.
                      I done tussled with a whale. I
                      done handcuffed lightning, thrown
                      thunder in jail. That's bad! Only
                      last week I murdered a rock.
                      Injured a stone. Hospitalized a
                      brick. I'm so mean, I make
                      medicine sick.
          
          Laughter.
          
                                                                        108.
          
                               HOWARD COSELL
                     Muhammad, I'm sorry. I have to ask.
                         (he hesitates; he's
                          sorry, but)
                     Are you really fast enough, anymore?
                     To beat George Foreman? Many
                     people believe you don't have the
                     same skills, that you are not the
                     same man you used to be ten years ago.
          
          There it is. Has doubt, spoken truthfully in the open,
          closed the mouth of Muhammad Ali? A beat. Then...
          
                               ALI
                     Howard. I didn't want to talk
                     about this, especially in front of
                     everybody. But I talked to your
                     wife! And she told me you're not
                     the man you used to be...two years ago!
          
          The assembled media crack up.    Ali's eyes are wide in mock
          amazement.
          
          CLOSE:    COSELL
          
          A bittersweet smile and the eye contact with Ali.    Cosell
          knows...
          
          INT. GYM FLOOR - HEAVY BAG - LATE AFTERNOON
          
          is slammed by a massive fist. It leaves a dent the size of
          a deflated basketball. The fist is George Foreman's.
          
          DICK SADLER
          
          holds the bag. Foreman throws hooks, one after the other.
          Each blow rocks Sadler. George is literally punching a hole
          in the bag. These blows would mash an opponent's liver,
          break ribs, destroy kidneys. This man can do more than hurt
          you. This man can kill you.
          
          INT. RING - FOREMAN + SPARRING PARTNER - LATER
          
          Foreman   is boxing a middleweight. He is smaller than
          Foreman   and, therefore, faster. And, that's the point. The
          partner   tries to circle, slide, dance away, and Foreman cuts
          him off   and drives him to the ropes where he tags him. He
          doesn't   put a lot behind it. Partner slides...
          
          FOREMAN
          
          darts left and jars him with three left jabs, keeping him on
          the rope. Foreman's training to defeat Ali's dancing, his
          "float + sting" tactics.
          
                                                                     109.
          
          CLOSE:   GEORGE FOREMAN
          
          is young, has unreal power and he can move.
          
                                                        CUT TO:
          
          INT. TRAINING COMPOUND - METAL GRILL DOORS:    ALI'S ENTOURAGE
          
          is entering. Lieutenant Nsakala is there, too. They time-
          share the facility. Foreman's entourage with conga drummers
          are exiting. Ali and Foreman are never closer than 10 feet
          apart. Foreman says nothing. Ali starts banging his hands
          on Foreman's conga and shouts over the percussion at Foreman...
          
                              ALI
                    Salaam Alaikum, brothers!
                        (raises one arm)
                    The champ is here!
          
          SIDE ANGLE:   THE TWO ENTOURAGES
          
          pass. Comparatively, Foreman looks bigger. He is more
          dense of bone. He's taller. His chest seems deeper and his
          shoulders wider.
          
          AND FOREMAN'S EXPRESSION
          
          is casual, unrattled by Ali's antics. He is menacing in his
          indifference. It means he's ALSO immune to getting psyched
          out by Ali.
          
          INT. RING - CROWD - LATER
          
          Bundini's in Ali's corner. Ali's sparring partner is Larry
          Holmes. Ali's hands are at his side. He dances, bicycles,
          shuffles, dances, dodges, doesn't throw anything, his elbows
          at his side. Ali is training to DANCE from Foreman. He's
          fast, but not seemingly suspended in air as he was 10 long
          years ago against Liston.
          
          INT. N'SELE COMPOUND, ALI'S HOUSE - BELINDA - MORNING
          
                              BELINDA
                    Here's your water.
          
                              ALI
                    Bottled water. Frozen steaks.
                    Brought all this stuff like
                    Africans don't have steaks...
          
                              BELINDA
                    You could pick up parasites...
          
                                                   110.
          
                    ALI
          They eat it.
          
                    BELINDA
          You're seeing what you want to see,
          Muhammad...
          
                    ALI
          Mobutu eats it...
          
                    BELINDA
          Mobutu is taking care of Mobutu and
          stealing all the wealth and sending
          it to Switzerland...
          
                    ALI
              (pause)
          So? What's that do with any of why
          we here?
          
                    BELINDA
              (she doesn't get it)
          We're here 'cause Don King got
          Mobutu to put up ten million
          dollars. Don King don't give a
          damn about Africa. He worse than
          Herbert.
          
                    ALI
          Here come "Herbert."
          
                    BELINDA
          Yeah. 'Cause where was he when we
          was broke and borrowing money? And
          Bundini and all them that "love
          you"? Disappeared, is where they
          were.
              (on a roll)
          All over you when you got it and
          drop off you when you don't...
          
                    ALI
          Money? I do "money-making"
          whenever I want. Money is easy.
          
                    BELINDA
              (running on)
          And Don King fit right in...that
          double-breasted hipster is now a
          dashiki-wearing rip-off.
          
                    ALI
          Don King delivered the first black-
          promoted championship fight in Africa!
          
                                                                    111.
          
                              BELINDA
                    Don King talks black, lives white
                    and thinks green! Why you
                    defending him and "brother" Herbert?
                        (against me)
          
                                ALI
                      'Cause clean-cut Muslims parading
                      on the South Side of Chicago don't
                      get this done! I got to put
                      honkeys with connections and bad-
                      ass niggers to it, too.
          
                                BELINDA
                          (not hearing)
                      And now they got you up against
                      George Foreman. Do they give a
                      damn you could get killed?
          
                                ALI
                      That what this is? Think I gonna
                      lose? Puttin' doubt on me?
          
                                BELINDA
                          (tears flow)
                      I think: why is my Muslim husband
                      letting himself get strung up on a
                      cross...? It means, "tell me."
          
          He won't.    Ali picks up his bag and starts out...
          
                                BELINDA (CONT'D)
                      Maryum is sick. Maybe I oughta go
                      back to Chicago and look after her.
          
                                 ALI
                      Sure.
          
                                BELINDA
                      I'll be back before the fight.
                          (sarcastic)
                      If that's all right, my husband...
          
          He walks out the door.
          
                                                         CUT TO:
          
          EXT. KINSHASA ARENA - 75 ZAIRIAN TRIBAL DANCERS - NIGHT
          
          to percussion.      The number.
          
                                                                      112.
          
          ALI,
          
          Angelo and Bingham in the empty seating, looking at the ring
          under the canopy. Behind them is the rehearsal. Meanwhile...
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. ARENA, ENTRANCE - TWO CARS
          
          arrive, including in the first an Interpreter, Zairian
          Official #2, a Policeman Driver; and in the second car is
          Don King, Herbert, VERONICA, and another American Woman
          (silent bit). They're in a hurry...
          
          EXT. ARENA - ALI
          
          is being taught to dance by two dancers. They fail. In the
          background, workers are raising gigantic Mobutu portraits.
          The Pointer Sisters begin.
          
          AISLE
          
          Don King and entourage approach.
          
                             DON KING
                       (over the drumming)
                   Champ! Champ! George had an accident.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (suspicious)
                   What are you talking about?
          
          Pointer Sisters start "Yes, We Can Can."
          
                             DON KING
                   Got cut. Right above his right eye.
                   His sparring partner's elbow.
                   Split it open, so...
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   Can he fight?
          
                             DON KING
                   Not for six weeks.
          
          Ali laughs.
          
                             DON KING (CONT'D)
                   This is not a humorous situation,
                   my champion. This postponement
                   could be long, especially if George
                   leaves.
          
                                                                    113.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   Are you tryin' to pull something,
                   Don? Ali wants his title. And he
                   wants it back in Zaire. George
                   leaves, he ain't comin' back.
                   George don't like it here.
          
          Pointer Sisters' rehearsal cuts...re-organizes.
          
                             DON KING
                   How right you are, my suspicious
                   and short Italian brother. And my
                   fiduciary responsibility to this
                   first all-black promotion is like a
                   garden in the African sun. It must
                   grow! It must bloom! It cannot
                   flower in the gloom and shade of
                   postponement to some dome. Like
                   the Astrodome, the Super-dome, any
                   dome outta Zaire, where it be
                   deprived of light and bled of water.
                   'Cause what gonna bleed...is money.
                   A hemorrhage of cash.
                       (sees it all)
                   ...blood on the floor. Double
                   hotel costs. Double travel costs.
                   Airplanes. Food and beverage...
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (rhetorical)
                   What do you expect us to do, Don?
          
                             DON KING
                       (moves close to Ali)
                   Muhammad. Find a way to get George
                   to stay. Be Moses in reverse: do
                   NOT let my people go! Stay the
                   fuck right here, in Egypt, if
                   you'll pardon my Swahili.
          
                             BINGHAM
                   L-l-l-lingala.
          
                              DON KING
                   What?
          
                              BINGHAM
                   Lingala.   They s-s-s-speak Lingala.
          
                             DON KING
                   Who cares?
          
          Pointer Sisters probably end here.   After a beat, percussion
          starts up. Dancers drift in.
          
                                                                    114.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (pissed, dissed big)
                   If George goes? You forfeit five
                   million. You crawl back to
                   Cincinnati. You ain't promotin' a
                   charity raffle...
          
          We see Herbert watching all of this closely...particularly
          the challenge to Ali/Dundee.
          
                             DON KING
                       (irrepressible)
                   If George goes? George goes, my
                   champion, I will get you Joe
                   Frazier. Ali-Frazier III...the
                   fight everybody want to see.
          INT. PRESS CONFERENCE
          
                             ALI
                       (interrupts)
                   Truth is...George knocked hisself out.
          
          Don King laughs, nervously.   Ali is daring George to stay.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   That's right. He did three rounds.
                   Knew he was gonna lose to Muhammad
                   Ali and knocked hisself out. And I
                   predict that whenever the fight is
                   set, he might not show up!
          
                             DON KING
                       (double entendre)
                   You bad!
          
                             ALI
                   I'm a bad man!
          
                             DON KING
                   Ain't no doubt about it.
          
                             ALI
                   And you tell the same thing to George.
          
          Media laugh, Don King goes along, Ali continues...
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (to King)
                   I been watchin' you! I heard you.
                   I know he's your man. I know you
                   got him picked. But the man's in
                   trouble.
                             (MORE)
          
                                                                    115.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   The whole world was gonna know.
                   But, now, he ain't gonna show.
                   That's why he knocked hisself out
                   when he was training.
          
                             DON KING
                       (laughs to dismiss
                        Ali)
                   We will reschedule the fight, and
                   to ensure George is ready, we are
                   thinking of postponing from
                   September 24th to October 30th.
          
                             REPORTER
                   What about the concert, Don?
                             DON KING
                   That would go off as planned on
                   September 22nd and 23rd.
          
                             ALI
                       (skeptical)
                   Uh-huh. I want all helicopters
                   guarded! Private boats. Private
                   jets. I want the airport -- I'm
                   serious -- I want President Mobutu
                   and all his paratroopers. Mobutu
                   and all his paratroopers. I want
                   all of you "Zaireans" to be on
                   guard! Watch all strange boats
                   tryin' to slip away! They might be
                   takin' him out.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   The bus station.
          It's Ali kidding on the square. A serious point delivered
          not seriously to be taken seriously.
          
                             ALI
                   Yeah. Watch the bus station.
                   Watch everything! Elephant
                   caravans. He might sneak out by
                   elephant.
          
          BUNDINI thinks of a line and whispers it to Don.   Don leans
          past Dundee to pass it on Ali.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                   What you say?
          
                             DON KING
                   I ain't talkin' to you!
          
                                                                      116.
          
                             ALI
                       (to King)
                   Hey!!!
          
          His eyes flash.   He leans forward and puts a finger in Don
          King's face.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   Don't talk to Angelo like that!
                   Don't you talk to him like that
                   ever again!!!
          
          Ali ain't fucking around. Ali has reasons for working with
          Don. Belittling Angelo cuts across all that. Danger's in
          the air. Dundee puts his hands up.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   You think you're callin' these
                   shots, Don? You're not.
          
          Ali pulls out a comb and starts to comb his hair.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (to King)
                   They know!
                       (segues into a
                        routine)
                   All those ladies out there know.
          
          Ali being mercurial is unexpected by Don. Laughter from
          particularly the women as he combs his hair and segues...
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (mock demagoguery)
                   They know I'm ready! I see fear in
                   the eyes of his followers! I see
                   fear! This is the fight that
                   Muhammad Ali was supposed to be
                   ended. The myth of Muhammad was
                   supposed to fall!
                       (hits the table with
                        his fist; glares at
                        King)
                   Supposed to be my destruction!
                       (French voices and
                        laughter, understated)
                   They miscalculated. They misjudged.
                   They got it...wrong.
          
          Ali's served notice to anyone with ears to hear it: he's
          multidimensional, strategic and dangerous as hell. A taste
          of what's to come.
          
                                                                     117.
          
          EXT. VERANDA - ALI, BUNDINI, BINGHAM + ANGELO - DAY
          
          Waiters scurry. Ali talks to a blonde reporter from France
          and settles next to Lloyd Price, without a shirt. Everyone
          crowds around their table. A ZAIRIAN INTERPRETER and
          Lieutenant Nsakala are present. Ali disregards their
          presence because his attention tracks...
          
          ALI'S POV:   VERONICA
          
          seen over the heads of Zairians. She's 5 feet 10 inches
          tall. Without acknowledging she's the object of Ali's
          attention, her radar tells her she's the object of Ali's
          attention.
          
                             ALI (V.O.)
                   Say, girl...!
          
          Veronica turns, sees Ali.    Lights up.
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                   C'mere.   I know you?
          
          OVER VERONICA as she makes her way to the table by Ali's
          side, where he takes her hand in his.
          
                             VERONICA
                   I don't think so.
          
                             ALI
                   What's your name?
          
                             VERONICA
                   Veronica Porche.
          
                             ALI
                   Like the sports car.
          
                             VERONICA
                       (laughs)
                   Yes.
          
                             ALI
                   But with a little something extra.
                       (beat)
                   Veronica, I know you now. C'mere,
                   sit down.
          
          He steers her into the chair next to him, which is
          immediately vacated by Lloyd Price.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                   You with Don?
          
                                                                   118.
          
                             VERONICA
                   Don brought me here, but I'm not
                   "with"...anybody.
          
          The others are paying them no attention. Bundini stands to
          talk to Howard Cosell. There's an ocean of side
          conversations. Ali's presentation to Veronica is natural,
          open admiring. It is not seduction. It's more seductive
          than seduction. She feels from Ali nothing predatory or
          exploitative...only the warm rays of the sun from his open
          face and appreciating eyes. Still holding her hand...
          
                             ALI
                   Where you from?
          
          Meanwhile, George Foreman, with Sadler, Moore, Broadus, sees
          and laughs at Ali and Veronica and onto George Foreman going
          into hotel.
          
                             VERONICA
                   L.A. But my people are from
                   Louisiana. We're Creole. So I'm
                   African, French, Spanish, my
                   mother's grandfather was Jewish.
          
                             ALI
                       (looking at her
                        admiringly)
                   Well...they all came together real
                   nice.
          
                             VERONICA
                   You know...
                       (hesitating; low)
                   ...I'm glad you said what you did.
                   You made sure this fight stays here.
                             ALI
                   All them writers in there think
                   Foreman gonna...kill me!
                       (eyes go wide)
                   What you think?
          
                             VERONICA
                   Ali, boma ye.
          
          Meanwhile, 15 Chinese and some Vietnamese approach and wait
          patiently. Ali has to force his attention away from
          Veronica to respond... They all bow. He bows.
          
          The Zairian Interpreter translates English to French to
          another Zairian, who speaks Mandarin. It all gets lost in
          chaos while Bingham shoots pictures and a Plimpton type
          explains pedantically to Bundini...
          
                                                                  119.
          
                             PLIMPTON TYPE
                   ...she's an African "succubus."
                   Means witch doctor.
          
                             BUNDINI
                   Succubus? Suck my dick. They
                   ain't room in Africa for more than
                   one witch doctor. And that's B'dini.
          
          The eyes of some of the Asians are very emotional. Ali
          stands up and bows to them. Chinese bow themselves away.
          Ruth Pointer arrives. Ali kisses her. She sits, but talks
          to Bingham.
          
                             ALI
                   You been to Hong Kong?   Taiwan?
                   Thailand?
          
                             VERONICA
                   No.
          
                             ALI
                   I can't go there. All the ladies
                   out there from Indonesia, Japan,
                   Hawaii, India...
                       (high-pitched voice,
                        imitating female fans)
                   "Ali-i-i-e-e-e! Ali-e-e-e! Oh,
                   Muhammad Al-i-i-i!"
                       (speaks in faux foreign
                        language, imitating
                        female fans; to Bingham)
                   You seen those people from Thailand?
                   I was in Bangkok -- I couldn't walk.
                       (laughter; hangs his
                        head)
                   I couldn't...I just couldn't do
                   nothin'. "Get me outta this
                   country!"
                       (laughter)
                   The women were so pretty...
          
                             BINGHAM
                   'B-b-b-bout Hong Kong, man?!   You
                   know what I heard?
          
                             ALI
                       (interrupts)
                   Ladies in Thailand, their hair
                   comes down to their knees...and
                   they about Veronica's
                   complexion...and they bad!
                             (MORE)
          
                                                                      120.
          
                               ALI (CONT'D)
                     But they ain't nothin' like the
                     "sisters."
                         (holds Veronica's
                          hands, looks deep
                          into her eyes)
                     Ain't NOTHIN' like the sisters!
          
          Veronica laughs as Ali mocks swooning over her...   Another
          news crew arrives.
          
                                NEWS CAMERAMAN
                     Champ...
          
                               ALI
                         (to Veronica)
                     Let's go for a ride.
          
          EXT. KINSHASA SHANTYTOWN - KIDS - DUSK INTO NIGHT
          
          and old people, teenagers in dirty T-shirts with strange
          hats. Their eyes are wide.
          
          REVERSE:   ALI
          
          shows his bare hands. Now he rubs them together and
          MAGICALLY pulls from his closed fist a colored scarf.     The
          kids scream.
          
          VERONICA
          
          squints, trying to figure out how he did it, because...
          
          ALI
          
          shows the scarf, pushes back his cuffs so that he can't hide
          anything up his sleeves. His wrists are bare. He shows
          both sides. Now, he takes the scarf and pushes with his
          right hand and feeds it into the closed fist of his left.
          He looks up wide-eyed at everybody. Then, he opens his
          fingers and the scarf is not there!
          
          ALI + VERONICA
          
          walk, towering over the kids. One girl holds Ali's hand.
          The others maintain a respectful proximity so that they
          don't invade the space around Ali.
          
                               ALI
                     So why you glad we still here?
          
                                                                   121.
          
                             VERONICA
                   Holdin' this in Africa make people
                   proud. All over the world.
                   They're proud of you. Anybody can
                   fight in Vegas.
          
                             ALI
                   That's one job.    I got two...
          
          They pass through cinder-block houses, shipping crates, oil
          drums for cooking fires, a few car parts.
          
                             ALI (CONT'D)
                       (melodramatic)
                   ...gotta whup George!
          
                             VERONICA
                   Islamic faith help you to that?
          
                             ALI
                   Listen, girl, as a Muslim, I am
                   busted out and failed in the eyes
                   of God. I shoulda discovered Islam
                   at 50! 'Cause I am weak on women.
                   They take my eyes and my heart
                   follow...causing me to be a lovin'
                   husband and a terrible husband...!
                       (looks down at her,
                        intensely)
                   ...green eyes and cocoa skin...?
                       (feigns wobbly legs)
                   ...okay, rest of me, let's go!!
          
          Veronica laughs. She brings his hand up to her mouth and
          kisses it. Hand in hand, a towering man and a towering
          woman walk away at their ease against the soft sky with
          their entourage of teenagers and kids. On the perimeter, a
          kid does flips and, then, gets distracted...
          
          INT. N'SELE GYM - SPEED BAG - DAY
          
          A syncopated, obscuring, blurred shape of the bag turned
          into a percussion instrument by Ali's fast hands trying to
          get even faster.
          
                             ALI
                       (to himself)
                   Faster! Faster!
          
                             DUNDEE
                       (shouts)
                   TIME!
          
                                                                       122.
          
          Ali SLAMS a right hook at the bag. It almost explodes.
          OPTIONAL: Ali takes body hits, tries sliding off head shots.
          
          INT. RING - ALI'S EYES
          
          feints his left and throws a right.   It surprises Holmes.
          
                              HOLMES
                    You can't lead a right hand.   Not
                    at him!
          
                               ALI
                    Why not?
          
                              HOLMES
                    Too long...to get it there. Man, I
                    mean, to think you could hit him
                    with a right lead...it's insulting...
                    Nobody would lead a right...
          
          Ali sees something beyond the ring. And, now, flicks four
          ripping left jabs into Holmes and slides sideways as Holmes
          tries to catch Ali with a right. But Ali changes directions,
          changes back and now comes over Holmes' right with his own
          left cross, and a six-or-seven-punch combination. It is Ali
          dancing and floating. Crowd cheers..."TIME."
          
          BUNDINI
          
          meanwhile, has thrown his arms around Dick Sadler, Foreman's
          manager. (We realize this is why Ali segued from serious
          work to snapping his traditional left jab.)
          
                              BUNDINI
                    I got him! Lock him up.
          
                              SADLER
                        (laughs)
                    Hey, hold up, chump!   Make this
                    chump turn me loose.
          
          Sadler's there with his wife and another couple. Rudy joins,
          laughing. Bundini turns loose Sadler. Ali and Sadler like
          each other.
          
                              SADLER (CONT'D)
                    This is my wife, Irene...
          
          Sadler affectionately puts an arm around Ali's neck and
          reaches up and pretends to hit Ali on top of the head with a
          fist for Bingham's camera. Ali bites his lower lip and
          starts wrestling with Sadler, putting him in a headlock.
          Sadler's arm is around Ali's waist.
          
                                                                       123.
          
                             ALI
                   Hey! Look! Look at George
                   Foreman's trainer, feelin' me up on
                   purpose! On the side, to see if
                   I'm in shape!
          
          More laughter.     Sadler's beret falls off.   Rudy puts it back on.
          
                             IRENE
                   Can I have your autograph?
          
                             ALI
                   We'll, you ain't gonna find no fat!
                   Watch out!!
          
                             SADLER
                       (lunges for wife's
                        note pad)
                   Give me that thing!
          
                             BINGHAM
                       (breaking through)
                   Muhammad. Give her an Ali button!
          
          The gang laughs.
          
                             SADLER
                   No, you ain't.
                       (concedes)
                   All right, give my wife an Ali button.
          
                             ALI
                   She's gotta put it on.
          
                             SADLER
                   Give my wife one.
                             BINGHAM
                   Bo'dini, you got Ali buttons?
          
                             ALI
                   "George" buttons is all I got. In
                   my bedroom! All over the bed!
                   Everywhere! To remind me...of all
                   of ya'. All of ya'! Reminds me of
                   all ya'!
          
          Throughout the above he's pretending to jab at Dick, who's
          laughing and feinting at him. It's raucous. Fond
          relationships transcend the adversarial roles. They are all
          of the tribe of boxers. Sadler is a particularly bright and
          talented man. Meanwhile...
          
                                                                      124.
          
          INT. COMPOUND, OTHER SIDE OF THE RING - AN OLDER BRADLEY
          
          accompanied by an American Reporter is nabbed by a French
          news crew.
          
                             ORTF INTERVIEWER
                       (in French)
                   Pardon. Vous �tes de l'ambassade
                   des Etats-Unis? Vous avez une
                   pr�diction?
          
                             ORTF INTERVIEWER
                       (English translation)
                   Excuse me. You are from the U.S.
                   Embassy? Do you have a prediction?
          
                              BRADLEY
                        (in French)
                        (caught; smiles)
                    Je suis avec l'Agence am�ricane
                    d'informations. Il ne m'est pas
                    permis d'exprimer mes pr�f�rences
                    entre deux citoyens des Etats-Unis.
          
                              BRADLEY
                        (English translation)
                        (caught; smiles)
                    I'm with the U.S. Information
                    Agency. I'm not allowed to take
                    favorites among two United States
                    citizens...
          
          He walks away.
          
          EDGE OF THE RING:   ANGELO DUNDEE
          
          sits on the apron of the ring.      Ali joins him.
          
                             ANGELO DUNDEE
                       (meaning Sadler)
                   He gone?
          
                              ALI
                   Yeah.
          
          EXT. COMPOUND - SADLER - DAY
          
          leaving, steals a glance at Ali and Dundee. It's adversarial.
          The camaraderie was not false. Both are true. But being
          strategic, he is a threat to Ali. George has a first-rate team.
          
                                                                   125.
          
          INT. INTERCONTINENTAL, ALI'S SUITE - ALI - DAY
          
          enters with Howard Cosell and Howard Bingham and a two-man
          news crew.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Hello, Muhammad. Bingham.    Mr. Cosell.
          
                             HOWARD COSELL
                       (tight)
                   Hi...Mrs. Ali.
          
                             ALI
                   When did you get in?
          
                             BELINDA
                   Just now. Muhammad, may I have a
                   word with you, please?
          
          Belinda starts towards the bedroom. Ali looks to Howard and
          gestures with his hand to get rid of everybody. As the
          bedroom door closes, Cosell, crew and Bingham can't wait to
          get out of there.
          
          INT. INTERCONTINENTAL SUITE, BEDROOM - DAY
          
                             BELINDA
                   What is going on?
          
                              ALI
                    You know what's going on.
                        (it's not the
                         first time)
          
                             BELINDA
                   But I don't have to have it thrown
                   in my face. I don't have to read
                   about it and have people call me up
                   on the phone about it...
          
                             ALI
                   I didn't mean for it to come out...
          
                             BELINDA
                   Oh, hell, Muhammad, you got no
                   discretion. You never did. You
                   humiliate me!
          
          Belinda slams a lamp standing next to her.
          
                             BELINDA (CONT'D)
                   I clean for you. I cook for you.
                   I feel every punch you take.
          
                                                                 126.
          
                             ALI
                   I know that.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Then why you got to be visible with
                   women?
          
                             ALI
                   I didn't mean for it to be...
          
                             BELINDA
                   I live with the casual ones.
                       (gestures to Veronica's
                        clothing)
                   But this, this...I can't hold it
                   together anymore.
                             ALI
                   I don't want to hurt you. It's
                   wrong. You're a good wife to me.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Then why do you disrespect me this
                   way?!
          
                             ALI
                   I respect you.   I always respect you.
          
          Belinda pauses.   A terrible question occurs to her.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Do you love her?
          
          Ali doesn't answer.
          
                             BELINDA (CONT'D)
                   Do you want to marry her?
          
                             ALI
                   I follow my heart.
          
                             BELINDA
                   "You're following your heart"?
                       (sarcasm falls away)
                   That's what you do. No matter what
                   anybody says. Or thinks. Or what
                   it does...
                       (pause)
                   And what happens now?
          
                             ALI
                   I fight George.
                       (after a beat)
                   I didn't come this far to quit.
          
                                                                      127.
          
                             BELINDA
                   Neither of us did.
          
          Ali looks at her a moment. Then he leaves. Silence.
          Belinda sits on the bed. She looks up. Then she comes
          apart. She rips open a closet. She finds Veronica's
          clothes, rips them, shreds peignoirs, overturns a night
          table, strips the bed, smashes more furniture, throws
          Veronica's suitcase at the mirror. It does not break. She
          looks around the wrecked room. Bingham is standing there.
          
                              BINGHAM
                   Belinda?
          
          Belinda looks up, tears in her eyes.
          
                             BINGHAM (CONT'D)
                   You can't beat him. You can't beat
                   him, 'cause you can't not love him.
          
          INT. ALI'S HOUSE, N'SELE, SHOWER - ALI - NIGHT
          
          under the water. It flows like silver down the contours of
          his face and neck. He is in that zone of concentration
          where the best athletes go...where the pre-motor cortex's
          activity dominates and facial expression becomes blank, eyes
          look distantly...Ali's in his domain...in the groove.
          
          EXT. COMPOUND, N'SELE, REAR SHOT:   ALI'S CITROEN - NIGHT
          
          and outriders depart.
          
          INT. MOBUTU'S PALACE, A SITTING ROOM - SERVANTS - NIGHT
          
          prepare a luxurious setting. On a platform is a large TV
          set. In front of it, with low tables are two large
          armchairs with antimacassars. At the door are Mobutu's
          spit-and-polish paratrooper bodyguards. They STOMP their
          feet to attention as...
          
          MOBUTU
          
          in his tan uniform and signature leopard-skin hat enters,
          followed by an entourage of aides.
          
                             MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE
                       (in French)
                   We are ready, your excellent
                   President for Life...
          
                             MOBUTU
                       (in French)
                   Invite Monsieur Idi to join me
                   now... The Banker? The American?
          
                                                                       128.
          
                               MOBUTU'S MILITARY AIDE
                         (in French)
                     They are waiting in the sitting room.
          
          INT. ALI'S DRESSING ROOM - DUNDEE
          
          wrapping Ali's hands, tears the tape into narrow strips to
          go between the fingers. Doc Broadus, from Foreman's camp,
          observes the wrapping, then signs it. In addition to
          function, the taping feels ritualistic.
          
          CLOSE:    ALI'S
          
          attention is focused elsewhere...on his action:    what he
          will do, his strategy.
          
                               LIEUTENANT NSAKALA
                         (from doorway)
                     Countdown! Countdown!
          
                               RUDY
                     Countdown is on, bro.   Five minutes.
          
          Ali gets off the training table. Angelo has finished. He
          puts on his robe and starts warming up before the mirror,
          throwing punches for a full minute.
          
          HERBERT
          
          enters.    Ali and Herbert go to an alcove.
          
                              ALI
                    Thanks to Allah...
                        (praying)
          
                               LIEUTENANT NSAKALA
                         (shouts)
                     Four minutes!
          
          Sarria sticking sealed bottles filled with honey, orange
          juice and water into the water bucket. As Ali puts on the
          robe, the others gather up the gear, start out. Herbert
          moves to Ali, preparing for the entrance, to be as close to
          him for the cameras as possible...
          
                               ANGELO DUNDEE
                     Give us a moment. Alone.
                         (off Herbert's look)
                     Hey. This is my religion!
          
          Herbert and Pat Patterson, the bodyguard, with his chrome-
          plated .45, follow the others away from Ali. Angelo begins
          applying Vaseline on Ali's face. They're alone in the room.
          
                                                                      129.
          
                              ANGELO DUNDEE (CONT'D)
                    It's hot. Humid. Monsoon season's
                    about to start. May hit 140 in the
                    ring under the lights. You all right?
          
                              ALI
                    Why?
          
                              ANGELO DUNDEE
                    Where you at?
          
                              ALI
                        (looks up)
                    Foreman ain't no mummy. He's
                    knocked out eight out of eleven
                    before the end of the third round.
                    He the most dangerous fighter I
                    ever fought.
          
                              ANGELO DUNDEE
                    I'd worry if I was hearin' anything
                    else.
          
          Ali loosens up his neck.
          
                              ALI
                    And I can't WAIT!
          
                              LIEUTENANT NSAKALA
                    Three minutes!
          
                               ANGELO DUNDEE
                    Dance.   That's the most important...
          
          Ali looks at Dundee enigmatically.     Before Angelo can ask...
          
          BUNDINI
          
          throws towels across Ali's shoulders. Ali puts on his long
          African robe, which is white with African-graphic trim on
          the cuffs of the sleeves and the hem.
          
                              BUNDINI
                        (whispers)
                    Forget every battle of man against
                    man, of mind against mind, of soul
                    against soul. This is the one.
                    This is the greatest.
          
          Ali nods to him.
          
                              BUNDINI (CONT'D)
                    This is it.
          
                                                                        130.
          
                             LIEUTENANT NSAKALA
                   Two minutes!
          
                             BUNDINI
                   The prophet's come back to claim
                   his own! Get the pretender off
                   that throne!
          
                             BUNDINI/ALI
                   Rumble, young man, rumble! It's
                   the "Rumble in the Jungle"!
          
          WIDE FROM ABOVE:   ALI'S CAMP
          
          starts moving towards the door. They open the door. It is
          guarded by a handpicked squad of paratroopers and Lieutenant
          Nsakala.
          
                             LIEUTENANT NSAKALA
                       (shouts)
                   One minute!
          
          INT. CORRIDOR
          
          Paratroopers on either side like a wedge, guarding Ali with
          Angelo, Bundini, Rudy and Herbert, as they push through the
          door, out into the hall.
          
          TRAVEL WITH THEM AS
          
          people in the corridor at the end see Ali.       The chant begins...
          
                            THE PEOPLE
                   Ali! Ali! Boma ye, Ali!       Ali!
                   Boma ye!
          
          The sound from the corridor picks up a second reverberation
          that booms from a distant vast space. As we move towards it,
          to encounter it. And suddenly we...
          
          BURST OUT INTO THE STADIUM...
          
          EXT. KINSHASA ARENA - WIDE:     EVERYTHING - NIGHT
          
          Lights flood it.   They pour down artificial sunshine.
          
                             THE PEOPLE
                   Ali, boma ye! Ali, boma ye!      Ali,
                   boma ye!
          
          ROARS from 65,000 voices at a quarter to four in the morning.
          The moon is out, revealing storm clouds.
          
                                                                   131.
          
          HIGH + WIDE SHOTS:        ALI
          
          and entourage.      The crowd goes nuts.
          
          TRAVELING WITH ALI THROUGH THE MASS
          
          The crowd roars; Angelo behind, Bundini on one side, Pacheco
          and Sarria.
          
          EXT. RING - WE ENTER
          
          They cheer. Ali raises his hand and salutes them. Ali
          dances from one end of the ring to the other...dances into
          George's corner... The crowd roars.
          
          ANOTHER ANGLE:      ALI
          dances back to his corner...
          
                              ANGELO DUNDEE
                    George is playing prima donna.   He
                    wants to make you wait.
          
          Ali laughs. You won't psyche out Muhammad Ali with that
          stuff. Instead, Ali uses the time. He tests the ropes. He
          gets the feel of the distance between the center and the corner.
          
          CLOSER:   ALI
          
          circles the ring. He looks at the crowd from different
          angles, from the corner, the center... He looks up at the
          lights and gets used to the heat from them.
          
          ALI'S FEET
          
          do a shuffle. He feels the canvas. He feels the soft spots.
          The firm spots. He feels how much slide there is because of
          the resin on the canvas, how much spring there is in the
          boards...
          
          ALI
          
          sheds his robe, now, and throws a blistering array of jabs
          and hooks. The crowd goes nuts. Ali looks ringside and sees...
          
          ALI'S POV:      JIM BROWN
          
          Lloyd Price...further along...Robert Lipsyte.
          
          EXT. ARENA - AISLE - SUDDENLY
          
          out comes Foreman in his red robe, Archie Moore following in
          his blue pea-cap, and Dick Sadler -- never a fashion
          plate -- in the world's least-attractive T-shirt, followed
          
                                                                        132.
          
          by former featherweight champ Sandy Saddler.
          
                                CROWD
                     Foreman!   Foreman!   Foreman!   Foreman!
          
          THE RING - ALI
          
          is shadowboxing as Foreman climbs in the ring and crosses
          past him, near to him. The look on Ali's face is indifferent.
          Foreman goes immediately to his stool. He doesn't move
          around the ring. He doesn't touch the ropes.
          
                                                         DISSOLVE TO:
          
          DON KING
          
          as tall as only three other men: Foreman, Ali and Bundini,
          walks into the ring wearing black...
          
          ZACK CLAYTON,
          
          the referee, moves to the center of the ring.      A great roar
          fills the air: "ALI, BOMA YE! ALI, BOMA YE!        ALI, BOMA
          YE!"...another one. "FOREMAN! FOREMAN!"
          
          OVERHEAD
          
          as Ali, Foreman and both their crews meet in the center of
          the ring.
          
                               CLAYTON
                     Now, both of you know the rules.
                     When I step back, I want a good,
                     clean break.
                         (Clayton keeps going)
                     No hitting below the belt, no
                     kidney punches, no...
          
                               ALI
                     Motherfucker, you 'bout to discover
                     you ain't nothin'.
          
                               CLAYTON
                     Ali, be quiet!
          
          George's eyes glare.    Ali rocks back and forth, ready to rumble.
          
                               CLAYTON (CONT'D)
                     No kidney punches. Now...
          
                                                                      133.
          
                                ALI
                          (past the ref;
                           eyeballing George)
                      You been hearin' about me for years.
                      All your life you been hearin'
                      about Muhammad Ali. Now you gotta
                      face me.
          
                                CLAYTON
                      Ali, I'll disqualify you. Now, I
                      want a good, clean, sportsman fight...
          
                                ALI
                          (to Foreman)
                      You never should have come to Africa.
          
          Foreman is unfazed by all of this.    His cold eyes say
          "battery and homicide."
          
                                CLAYTON
                          (blows up)
                      All right!!
                          (beat)
                      Now go to your corners and come out
                      fighting when you hear the bell,
                      and may the best man...win...
          
                                                       DISSOLVE TO:
          
          Ali turns his back and continues to shuffle and shadowbox.
          
                                                       DISSOLVE TO:
          
          OVERHEAD:    ALI + FOREMAN'S
          
          corners are clear. Ali is facing his corner, praying to
          Allah. Foreman is bent over at the waist, flexing and
          releasing the last tension in his huge shoulders, as the
          bell for ROUND ONE clangs...
          
          THE RING - BOTH
          
          charge out and stop as if they ran into a brick wall five
          feet from each other. Then Ali dips, throws a left, which
          George takes on the shoulder...a BIG RIGHT HAND to George's
          head. The crowd goes nuts. George clinches, picks up Ali
          and swings him through 180 degrees with his power. As he
          puts Ali down, Ali pushes George's head down and away and
          Ali clocks him with ANOTHER RIGHT. Foreman clinches and
          drives Ali back to the rope. Ali throws ANOTHER RIGHT that
          lands. Ali dances, circles, stays out of Foreman's way.
          Then he slams him again with a right.
          
                                                                       134.
          
          Foreman gets Ali in the corner, throws vicious combinations
          and a hook that nails Ali in the body and a wild shot hits
          Ali on the side of the head. CLOSER ON ALI...stunned, his
          eyes clear. He's just taken a Foreman shot. He pushes
          Foreman, the stronger man, out of the way and dances and
          circles. Foreman ties him up again. Ali pushes out, dances
          and hits HIM with a RIGHT. Ali ties him up, and there's the
          BELL.
          
          ALI'S CORNER:     ALI
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      Legs heavy...air's heavy...like sand...
          
          SLOWLY MOVE IN ON ALI
          as Angelo and Bundini's talk fades away. We see Ali's
          awareness in a deep concentration. He is holding counsel
          with himself. Ali stares into space across the diagonal to
          the other corner, but not really at Foreman. Ali is
          weighing something. A gamble. He blinks, and whatever it
          is, he's decided it NOW. AMBIENT SOUND starts to come back
          as Ali's attention returns to the present and he ignores...
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      ...keep moving. Don't let him put
                      you into the corner. Stay off the
                      rope!
          
          THE BELL FOR ROUND TWO
          
          Ali charges into the center of the ring, provoking Foreman
          to chase him, and Ali immediately BACKS TO THE ROPE. And
          stays there! Seizing opportunity, Foreman throws big hooks.
          ALI IS DOING EXACTLY WHAT HE'S NOT SUPPOSED TO DO. He gets
          off the rope and backs to the rope on the other side. Most
          of the shots are blocked by the gloves of both men. No
          damage. Then George throws a left, which Ali blocks, and a
          big right hook.
          
          ALI
          
          turns away.     Nevertheless, it crashes into his jaw.
          
          MACRO ALI
          
          TIME SLOWS. He ties up George. We SEE Ali's hurt.        Dazed.
          But he must make George believe he's unhurt.
          
                                ALI
                      That all you got...?   That it?
          
                                                                         135.
          
          Foreman reacts. Ali takes vicious hooks to the midsection,
          hangs on and goes right back onto the ropes, tying Foreman up.
          
          LOW ANGLE
          
          George's shots are taken on Ali's elbows and gloves. But
          for every four that are thrown, one or two tremendous hooks
          get through to Ali's ribs, his side.
          
          ALI'S FACE
          
          reveals impact, but nothing diminishes the TERRIBLE
          FORTITUDE with which he endures. Now, he ties up George.
          Now, George drives Ali into the corner and pummels him.
          
          ANGELO + BUNDINI
          going crazy in the corner!
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE
                      Get off the ropes! Get off the
                      ropes! Get off the ropes! Dance!
          
          Ali blocking, getting hit.   WORRIED FACES in the crowd.       One
          woman looks away.
          
          ALI'S EYES
          
          alive, more than alert, the sharpest eyes in boxing.
          
          FOREMAN'S LEFT JAB
          
          coming in.   Ali feints, shifts.   It misses by a quarter of
          an inch.
          
          FOREMAN HOOKS OFF HIS JAB
          Ali leans back on the top rope. Foreman's punch falls short
          and connects with little effect. That's how good is Ali.
          The techniques BECOME CLEAR.
          
          Foreman goes upstairs, throws three hooks, all get taken on
          Ali's gloves. Foreman slams a hook that began in Cape Town
          and ends up in Zaire, into Ali's abdomen. And another. Ali
          takes the shots, hangs on.
          
          ALI'S EYES
          
          are bright like stars.   His white mouth guard shines.     A
          grimace? A grin?
          
                                                                     136.
          
                              ALI
                        (to himself)
                    There is nothin'... Nothin'!
                        (another Foreman
                         hook lands)
                    ...I cannot take.
          
          Ali pushes Foreman off and Ali connects with a left and a
          straight right to the jaw. They pound but don't stop George.
          Ali ties him up. Ali's jabs end the round. Nothing
          effective, but Ali shakes his head, disapprovingly, puts his
          hand on the back of George's neck, and as the BELL sounds...
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                    Thought you was bad!
          
          George laughs.   He won the round overwhelmingly.
          
          ALI'S CORNER
          
          is apoplectic.
          
                              BUNDINI
                    Dance, dance!
          
                              DUNDEE
                    Get off the ropes!   What are you
                    doin'?!
          
                              ALI
                        (it gets quiet; to
                         himself:)
                    Here come George's "murder" round.
                        (refers to Round Three)
          
          Ali pushes away from his handlers and rises. He opens his
          arms to the crowd. We hear a massive "ALI, BOMA YE" start up.
          
          CLOSER:   ALI
          
          opens his arms as if the roar of 65,000 voices is sunlight.
          By opening his arms, his skin soaks it in and converts it to
          power. And the BELL STARTS ROUND THREE.
          
          EXT. THE RING
          
          They trade. Nothing. Foreman advances, Ali backs to the
          ropes, tags Foreman with a couple of harmless left jabs.
          Now Foreman opens up with heavy artillery. Ali gets in a
          couple of shots, but for the center of the round he's
          pummeled by Foreman. Midway through...
          
          FOREMAN accepts a left jab, and while Ali's left arm is out
          with it, Foreman hammers a right into the exposed lower
          
                                                                   137.
          
          midsection of Ali and then follows it with six tremendous
          hooks to Ali's abdomen. Ali pushes him away. Foreman comes
          in again. Foreman gets him on the rope again, and a
          surprising right on the left side of Ali's face.
          
          ALI
          
          ties up Foreman's left in the crook of his elbow, and they
          stagger, married, awkwardly, into the center of ring. The
          referee separates them.
          
          ANOTHER ANGLE:     FOREMAN
          
          charging and throwing heavy shots. Ali takes some on his
          elbows, arms, biceps and shoulders. NOW we see Ali lean
          BACK. WAY BACK. 45 degrees back... We start to hear the
          TWANG of the rope. We get it. Ali is using the rope as a
          shock absorber. Some Foreman punches get through, but the
          rope TWANGS and Foreman's hitting a trampoline with a hammer.
          Between deflection and being ring-wise, Ali dilutes much of
          what George throws. Then Foreman drives three powerful
          hooks into Ali's side.
          
          ALI'S BODY SPASMS
          
          But, as if inconsequential...
          
                                ALI
                    George!    Show me something.
          
          Ali -- insulting, taunting -- snaps jabs into George's face,
          talking through his mouthpiece...
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                    Where's your punch, man?!
          
                              BUNDINI/DUNDEE (O.S.)
                    Ali, get off the ropes! Stick 'em!
                    Jab! Off the ropes!
          
          UP CLOSER:   ALI
          
          blocks a rage of Foreman head shots with his fists, the
          abdominal shots within his elbows. Each Foreman punch is a
          haymaker.
          
          FOREMAN
          
          suddenly switches.
          
          FROM THE FLOOR:     FOREMAN'S UPPERCUT
          
          comes from camera and slams right through Ali's guard, right
          into his jaw.
          
                                                                         138.
          
          ALI'S
          
          hurt!     He holds on.
          
                                DUNDEE/BUNDINI (OVER)
                      Off the ropes! Dance, champ, dance!
          
          Ali's pushed back like a rag doll.
          
          FOREMAN
          
          throws a right hand.     It, too, slams through Ali's guard.
          He's in trouble.
          
          ALI'S EYES
          
          flash.     Roll in his head.   He sees neon.   TIME SLOWS...lights
          dim...
          
                                ALI
                          (calmly)
                      ...been here before.
          
                                ANGELO DUNDEE (V.O.)
                          (distant echoes)
                      Ali, move!
                          (beat)
                      Dance, champ!
          
          Ali glances at the crowd. He SEES: the OLD MAN with the
          transistor radio on his shoulder from the shantytown, urging
          him on!
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      Open the door, Richard...outta this
                      room... Put on your coat,
                      man...get out...
          
          THE RING:     FOREMAN
          
          slams shots into Ali's kidneys, his ribs. Ali will piss
          blood for two months. But Ali stays on the ropes. AS TIME
          CATCHES UP TO NORMAL...
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                          (to himself)
                      Think my fight's over...? That...
                          (to George)
                      ...all you got? That the hardest
                      you hit?
          
          ALI comes off the rope, and Ali hits Foreman with a terrific
          three-shot combination, a right-left-right. WHAM-WHAM-WHAM.
          
                                                                   139.
          
          Feints.   Hits Foreman with a left-right.   WHAM-WHAM!
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                    C'mon, chump!!!
          
          The BELL. It's an Ali rally at the end. He throws Foreman
          a look of contempt as he walks to his corner.
          
          ALI'S CORNER
          
                              ANGELO DUNDEE
                        (panicked)
                    Get off the goddamn ropes!!
          
                              ALI
                    Took somethin' away from him, Angie,
                    that round...
          
                              BUNDINI
                    You gotta move! Stick and MOVE!
          
                              ALI
                        (to himself)
                    They don't know what's happenin'.
          
          Ali looks to the left and sees Jim Brown.
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                        (to Jim Brown)
                    You bet the wrong horse! He can't
                    fight no better than you can act!
          
          Jim Brown laughs.
          
          WE DON'T HEAR A BELL. INSTEAD, WE'RE SUDDENLY IN THE LAST 15
          SECONDS OF ROUND FOUR.
          EXT. RING, ROUND FOUR, FIVE, SIX - FOREMAN BARRAGE
          
          Ali is braced on the ropes, as far back as the ropes will go.
          Foreman throws a barrage of shots, he slams in five and six
          at a time. THE BELL.
          
          ALI
          
          covers with gloves at his head. Elbows at his ribs. When
          head shots come in, Ali slips them the right or left, or
          turns them into glancing shots, or just leans straight back
          so that they all fall short by quarter of an inch. The BELL.
          
          ALI
          
          covering, taking the most powerful hooks Foreman's thrown in
          the fight, one after the other to the body.
          
                                                                              140.
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself)
                      Take it! Terrify him with what you
                      can take...
          
          Ali's eyes are stars. He sees everything. He sees things
          no one else can see in the quantum physics of deflecting the
          force of Foreman's blows.
          
          FOREMAN
          
          desperate, pounds a left to Ali's side, a blocked left to
          the head, three lefts to the belly, which get through!
          Ali's left arm convulses downwards, involuntarily, with the
          blows. What Ali's not ready for and doesn't block is the
          right hand that follows. This shot is jarring and concussive.
          He grabs Foreman's neck and has to hold on.
          
          The BELL.
          
          EXT. RING - ALI - MID-ROUND SEVEN
          
          leaning way back at impossible angles -- soaking up George's
          shots. George is SLOWER...BUT Ali's not throwing at all!
          
                                ALI
                          (hisses to George)
                      Eight more rounds... You runnin'
                      outta gas?
          
          Then...Ali comes out from under.
          
          WHAM.     WHAM.     WHAM.   WHAM.     WHAM.
          
          Five hard shots are followed into Foreman's puffed face.
          They surprise and enrage him.
          WIDER:     GEORGE
          
          drives Ali with his 220 pounds...George's arms and fists now
          SWING HEAVILY. Some get through. Ali's right eye is puffy.
          Both tie up. And BELL ends the round.
          
          EXT. RING - ALI'S CORNER
          
          Angelo and Bundini talk.            Neither we nor Ali hear them.
          
                                ALI
                          (to himself to George)
                      ...can't let you get that second
                      wind which you don't know is out
                      there for you.
                                (MORE)
          
                                                                    141.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                          (talking to George in
                           his head)
                      Want the title...wear the
                      heavyweight crown?
                          (to himself)
                      Jaw broke? Nose smashed? Face
                      busted? You ready to die? Is that
                      you?
                          (towards George)
                      'Cause you gonna meet a man who
                      will die before he let you win.
          
          A tall African Girl walks by with the number "8." As she
          passes near Ali, she has the audacity to wink at him. ALI
          happens to see it. He winks back at her. She smiles. He
          brightens right up! THE BELL RINGS.
          
          EXT. RING - ALI
          
          goes to the ropes, throws a couple and, now, comes off the
          ropes. He's in the center of the ring. HE'S HUNTING. A
          couple of lefts from Ali. Foreman throws a haymaker and
          almost falls out of the ring. Ali's in the corner, having
          avoided the shot.
          
          FOREMAN
          
          gets in a couple of lefts that Ali deflects. Ali takes
          another on the cheek, leans way back again. Suddenly, he
          seems tired, as is Foreman. Tied up, they go diagonally to
          the other corner of the ring, both fighters exhausted,
          leaning against each other. Resting. BUT...
          
          EXTREMELY CLOSE:   WE SEE ALI'S EYES ARE DEAD SHARP
          
          He's faking.
          
          FOREMAN
          
          backs Ali into the corner.
          
          ALI
          
          hits Foreman with a left. Foreman launches a short left
          that Ali counters with a BIG RIGHT CROSS that connects.
          
          FOREMAN'S
          
          head snaps around. Sweat sprays in a parabola of light.
          Crowd ROARS with expectation. George Foreman tries a right
          uppercut, fails as Ali circles, guiding Foreman onto the
          ropes. Foreman's on the ropes NOW.
          
                                                                     142.
          
          ALI'S EYES
          
          know the moment is...
          
                              ALI
                        (to himself)
                    Now...
          
          ALI'S
          
          short, chopping right turns Foreman's head down.
          
          CLOSER:   FOREMAN
          
          comes over the ropes and turns back into...
          
          ALI'S RIGHT HOOK
          
          slams his head down and sideways.   And Foreman charges into Ali.
          
          CLOSE SLO-MO:   ALI
          
          snaps a combination: an overhead right to Foreman's face, a
          short chopping left and a right hook. Ali's eyes light up
          like white phosphorus.
          
                              ALI (CONT'D)
                        (to himself)
                    RIGHT NOW!
          
          FOREMAN
          
          wrestles Ali into the center.   And the most significant
          moments begin...
          
          SLO-MO:   ALI ON THE LEFT + FOREMAN ON THE RIGHT
          ...and Ali's left hand is extended way behind him with the
          wrist bent, no power. As it passes his body, Ali converts
          it into a left hook. As he's doing this, he's dropping his
          left foot back. The left foot DOES NOT support a left hand.
          It's for a right hand so the body can untorque across with
          the punch. And Ali is already cocking his right. Meanwhile,
          the left connects with Foreman's jaw and raises his chin.
          As the left is departing Foreman's chin, Ali launches the RIGHT.
          
          SLO-MO:   AS ALI'S RIGHT HAND
          
          comes in, Ali's torso untorques, transitioning all 217
          pounds to Ali's left foot and putting that weight and power
          behind his right fist that crashes into George Foreman's
          chin...and the impact transfers to Foreman's skull...and
          Foreman's head snaps around. He is gone. He is falling in
          a spiral...a metaphor for vertigo...turning downward into
          
                                                                     143.
          
          unconsciousness. And through the spiral, Ali has moved with
          him, pivoting with the falling Foreman, his right fist
          cocked to unload again if he has to. He never does...
          
          MASSIVE OVERHEAD:   FOREMAN
          
          down. Ali is pushed into the corner by referee Zack Clayton.
          Foreman is counted out. Clayton raises Ali's hand. 65,000
          people go crazy!
          
          TOTAL CHAOS
          
          Ali is seized by Rahaman, Dundee, Bundini. And in the
          corner, hardly seen by anybody, Ali, now, faints. Veronica,
          with a DON KING AIDE, is overcome. Tears stream down her face.
          
          EXT. THE ARENA
          
          As if finally released from the suspense, the sky opens.
          The monsoon begins.
          
          EXT. THE STREETS OF KINSHASA, OUTSIDE THE STADIUM, ZAIRIANS -
          NIGHT
          
          celebrate. The city is crazy with the air of liberation in
          the rain. People are drunk, bowing to one another,
          extending their arms and legs in strange gestures. Laughter.
          THUNDER is deafening in the downpour. People celebrate
          despite the storm, dancing on sidewalks on Rua Absini.
          
          EXT. KINSHASA ARENA - NIGHT
          
          Almost empty. The downpour.   The last fans rip down one
          gigantic image of Mobutu...
          
          INT. MOBUTU'S PALACE - THREE MEN
          waiting, now rise. One, in Saville Row, is from a London
          Bank. The other is Bradley, the USIA/CIA character. The
          third is Idi Amin of Uganda. As everybody shakes hands,
          they sit down and servants appear. Everyone is pleased with
          themselves...
          
                             BRADLEY
                       (in French)
                   Ce soir, le Zaire a �t� le sujet
                   central dans le tous les centres
                   europ�ens. F�licitations, Monsieur
                   le Pr�sident pour la vie.
          
                                                                   144.
          
                             BRADLEY
                       (English translation)
                   Zaire was the center of the world
                   tonight in every banking capital,
                   all over Europe. Congratulations,
                   President for Life.
          
                              MOBUTU
                    Yes.
                        (then in Lingala to
                         servant)
          
                             LONDON BANKER
                   What's on the menu...?
          
          INT. CITROEN ON KINSHASA ROAD - ALI - NIGHT
          rides through the downpour with Belinda and Bingham in the
          front seat. She gently holds, almost supports his hand.
          
                             ALI
                       (low; about them)
                   I don't know what's gonna happen.
                       (beat)
                   Maan, everything is crazy.
          
                             BELINDA
                   ...I didn't come this far to quit.
          
          They drive through a fishing village with dense foliage in
          part. Ali looks, sees...
          
          ALI'S POV:   WOMEN + SOME MEN
          
          have brought their children out into the rain to see the
          champion so they can say when they grow up they saw him pass
          by. Plastic or clothing protect the children from the rain.
          One man holds up his son. Ali rolls down the window.
          
          INT. INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, BAR - DICK SADLER
          
          shouting French to the bartender. Folks who look like Jim
          Brown, Schulberg/Mailer types...hang out, half drunk...and
          argue about flights out with extortionate petty bureaucrats
          like Zairian Official #2. Flights have been cancelled,
          tickets rendered no good, passports confiscated, etc.
          There's a stoned Hunter Thompson/Bill Cardoso type with a
          couple of Zairian hookers. The Hunter Thompson type is not
          very discreetly smoking Congolese weed.
          
                                                                     145.
          
          REVEAL:     IN THE BACK CORNER OF THE BAR ARE...
          
          DON KING + HERBERT MUHAMMAD.
          
          King is importuning Herbert, his hands work the air,
          gesticulating madly, building whole castles of hype and
          hustle. We can't hear what he's saying. Herbert listens.
          Then Don King stops and looks at him, and Herbert nods his
          head "yes." Then Herbert starts saying something and Don
          King nods his head "yes." Whatever's happening here, a deal
          for the future has been struck.
          
          EXT. ALI'S COMPOUND, N'SELE - ALI - PRE-DAWN
          
          Rain stopped. The cold, blue light is illuminated with
          magenta at its base as dawn starts to rise over the Congo River.
          WIDE:     ALI
          
          in a pale green shirt and slacks, walks towards the water,
          followed by Zairians, teenagers, some kids who snuck into
          the compound, two older men. No media; no elite; no hype.
          One policeman who staggers, drunk. Ali doesn't so much as
          walk to a destination as amble. He rubs the head of a 12-
          year-old boy who starts shadowboxing five feet in front of him.
          
                                ALI
                      You think you got a chance, chump?
                      Now you in trouble.
          
          Ali begins to spar with the 12-year-old, who is fast and
          knows a little bit about boxing.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      You even dream of beating me?   You
                      better wake up and apologize!
          Kid throws a punch.     Ali collapses to his knees.
          
                                ALI (CONT'D)
                      He too much for me!
          
          Some laughter. Then Ali stands and puts his hand on the
          boy's shoulder. He ambles with the group towards the river.
          The sun's coming up on the other side.
          
                                                        FADE TO BLACK.