Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. has signed on as executive producer for a documentary on Muhammad Ali, set during the era when the famed boxer refused to accept orders to enter the military.
And while Gossett admits he must still secure the needed funds to get things in motion, he’s confident that he’ll be able to overcome that hurdle.
The movie, “Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story,” will explore the boxing icon’s refusal to participate in the military draft that remained the law of land during the midst of the Vietnam War and the challenges he subsequently endured.
“It’s an American project,” Gossett said of the film. “Ali found a loop hole and was able to make a comeback.”
In 1966, as Ali’s career continued to soar, with several heavyweight titles under his belt, the Army drafted him to serve in the Vietnam War. Ali cited his religious beliefs as a Muslim for his refusal to obey the orders when officials arrested him in violation of federal law.
The conviction that followed his refusal to join the Army resulted in losing his boxing license and having his heavyweight champion titles taken away.
Ali successfully won the appeal and his conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court. However, that decision was overturned because a paperwork error.
Outside of the ring, Ali succeeded as a motivational speaker, author and spoken-word artist, winning two Grammy Awards.
Gossett believes those who “make it,” as he and Ali did, should use that position in life to influence or put a light on issues that benefit everyone.
“He was my friend before he was Ali,” Gossett said. “I remember him speaking to 4,000 people and he saw me … there was an undercurrent of friendship there.
“He was a kid when I got an Oscar,” the actor continued. “He used to tease my son, who was 5 years old at the time, tickling his ear. I told my son, who is over 40 now, that [Ali’s] his godfather.”
Gossett aims to keep Ali’s legacy alive with the documentary and by challenging racism.
“I’m an American-African, not an African-American,” he said as a man who has lived and witnessed racial injustice for many years. “The conflicts are getting old. We need to start making people aware of the need to raise peace.”
Eunice Moseley’s syndicated column, The Pulse of Entertainment, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million.