A film depicting Muhammad Ali’s legendary visit to Tyneside in the 1970s is set to be made.
Nicknamed The Greatest, Ali was the reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World when he received an invitation to visit boxing clubs in Newcastle.
To the disbelief of locals, he accepted and came to the region in 1977.
Independent production company, Studio Pictures, are now working on bringing the remarkable story to the big screen – and it is already making waves.
A spokesperson for Studio Pictures said: “We are very excited to be bringing this incredible true story to the big screen and have the opportunity to promote Tyneside to the audiences around the world.
“Newcastle is already embracing this film beyond our expectations.”
The invitation for Ali’s visit in 1977 was sent in the hope an appearance would help raise the profile of clubs in the West End of the city.
Tyne Tees Television spoke to the famous boxer at the time. He told reporters: “Happy to be here and to meet the people in the hope that people will support my being here to raise money for the boys clubs.”
Boxing official Norman Close was a coach at Grainger Park Boxing Club when Ali dropped in.
He shared a ring with the heavyweight that day. Recalling that memory this week, he said: “It was fantastic. It was the highlight of my boxing career, meeting the champion of the world.
“He was a gentleman, there’s no doubt about it. I loved him to bits.”
The moment still inspires young boxers at the club today.
Chairman, Phil Reid, said: “It’s good for them to aspire to be somebody like that because not only was he the greatest heavyweight of all time, he was graceful and respectful in and out of the ring.”
During his time in the North East, Ali also had his wedding blessed at a mosque in South Shields and spoke of his appreciation for the warm Geordie welcome.
Speaking to Tyne Tees Television, he said: “I’ve never been received like up here in Newcastle. I can go home and say I know people, I have friends and fans and brothers and sisters in this country, that’s what is so rewarding.”
Production on the film is scheduled to start later this year.