Ali vs. Quarry: Rebirth of an American hero

In Late Bus to Mecca, Ava Johnson is waiting at a Greyhound bus station in Detroit for the bus to Atlanta, where Muhammad Ali is about to return to the ring to face Jerry Quarry.

After winning a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics and a heavyweight title in 1964, Ali was convicted of violating the Selective Service Act in 1967 when he refused to serve in Vietnam as a conscientious objector. His license was suspended by the boxing commission, and for three years he became a political and cultural lightning rod; political figures and newspapers expressed contempt for Ali and urged patriotic Americans to do the same.

In 1970, Ali’s license was reinstated, and his first fight in three years became a symbol of survival and rebirth. Here it is (dubbed in German – I can’t find an English version on YouTube):

This is where Ava wants to go – this is the Mecca of hope and promise that’s pulling her away from Detroit.

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