The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali documentary in theatres “I AM ALI”


Special to The VIPP Report: 

By Sherlene Shanklin

On the 40th anniversary of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of the new documentary ‘I AM ALI’. To some he’s the ‘Greatest of all Time’ in the boxing ring, but he also refused to be drafted in the Army and fight in the Vietnam War. The member of the Nation of Islam and native of Louisville, Kentucky, faced adversity and still does to this day in his own hometown. But when you watch the film, there was a silver lining and that was his family. In the film, the father of nine, gives his fans a rare look into his life as a father. The two hour documentary shows you how the confident fighter stayed grounded and what meant the most to him.

The story of Cassius Clay, known today as Muhammad Ali, shows how he kept his family close even when they were thousands of miles away. His brother, Rahman says he and his brother were like salt and pepper. You didn’t see one without the other for many years. Rahman trained right alongside the champ. Their parents attended many of the matches and was there as he trained.

This film is unique because it is viewed through the eyes of his two of his daughters. They are the producers of the film. Back when recording phone calls and videos were virtually unheard of, Ali did just that to preserve history and memories for his loved ones. He says in the film ‘This is history’. He would have conversations with his children and record them. On one call he asked his young daughter did she know her purpose. In her little voice she responds that she wants to help others.

The film takes you through the stages of his life. It explains the reason why he started to learn the art of boxing. A Louisville police officer who happened to also be a boxing coach ran into Ali and his brother right after their bicycle was stolen. They were so upset that they literally wanted to fight anyone they saw. The officer suggested that they learn how to fight first. At the age of 12, weighing 87 pounds, that’s what he did. Right in the basement of the building where his bike was stolen, he learned very quickly how to defend himself.

The film takes you through some of the biggest fights in Ali’s career both in and out of the ring. From segregation to his boxing suspension. He says ‘Titles and a little money didn’t mean a thing if you are not free.’

NFL Hall of Famer and activist Jim Brown appears in the film. He discusses the turbulent times in Ali’s life where he showed courage when he was being isolated because of his beliefs, evading the draft, and having his crown being taken away. Brown says he thought Ali was suffering inside.
In 1967, Brown and other top black athletes met with Ali so he could discuss with them why he decided not to join the Army. Brown, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor, (known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten stood by Ali’s side in a press conference.

While Ali didn’t fight in the ring he found a new platform to have his voice be heard. He went to universities all over the country. The standing room only venues were full of scholars. Ali jokingly admitted that when he was in school he didn’t make the best grades but his knowledge and sincerity made him a scholar and respected by many.

The film talks to people close to him like his former trainer, the late Angelo Dundee, boxer Mike Tyson, and a rare appearance by Ali’s son, Muhammad Ali Jr. He talks about never wanting to be in the spotlight. Like most children with famous parents, fans always wanted Ali Jr. to measure up to his father. He said he found himself always being challenged to fight and when he didn’t, people would pick on him.

What’s so poignant in the film is when someone says ‘Who doesn’t know Muhammad Ali?’ I’ve travelled all over the world and when I say I’m from Louisville, one of the first things that many will say, isn’t that the home of the ‘Greatest’?

Throughout the film, I looked for Louisville landmarks. From Ali running down Broadway holding up traffic to a scene where his car turned off Main Street. It’s ironic that some 40 years later the Muhammad Ali Center would be built in the same area.

On a personal note: I’ve met Ali on several occasions, from him handing out autographed Quran Bibles in front of the Galleria, (known today as Fourth Street Live) as a child, to growing up and becoming a journalist covering him throughout his career as he has battled Parkinson’s disease.
Ali grew up in West Louisville, a predominately urban community and attended Central High School. I also live in that same neighborhood to this day. You watch him on television and have a sense of pride for your home state. I never thought about his international appeal. He’s one of the many who came from my neighborhood and went on to become a phenomenal success.

‘I AM ALI’ is in theatres and video on demand . In Louisville, you will be able to see the documentary at Village 8 Theatre.


The VIPP Report: Louisville Spring Jam at the KFC Yum! Center

The VIPP Report: As we near the end of the year, 2015 is starting to shape when it comes to entertainment. Within the last few weeks, I have received concert notifications for several artists from Maroon 5, Fleetwood Mac to Luke Bryan. Now, R&B and Hip Hop gets this chance to shine. It’s the Louisville Spring Jam featuring Keith Sweat, Dru Hill, 112, and Slick Rick.
lick Rick’s official DJ is a Louisville native. Dwight “DJ Kaos” Chatman travels with the Hip-Hop icon and resides in Louisville.

The concert is scheduled for Saturday, March 28th at the KFC Yum! Center. The promoters are calling the show a celebration of the best in R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul and Comedy, featuring an outstanding lineup with some of today’s hottest performers.

Tickets go on sale Friday, November 7th at 10:00 a.m. You can purchase tickets at the Yum! Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets and on online at

If you have a story idea send it to  You can also follow us on Twitter @VIPPComm.


The VIPP Report: Rapper The Game is sued by a Louisville promoter over a Kentucky Derby event


The VIPP Report: Celebrities flock to the Derby City the first Saturday in May but one celebrity was a no show after signing an alleged agreement to perform Derby night. Jayceon Taylor, Fifth Amendment Entertainment and Cash Jones are being sued by local promoters, Dream Team Entertainment. Taylor known as “The Game” to his fans is a successful rapper and reality show star. The complaint was filed on October 17th in the U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky Louisville Division. The complaint says Dream Team is requesting $75,000 in which $35,000 was given to him to secure the engagement. According to the suit Dream Team sent a bank wired transfer of those funds.

The lawsuit goes on in detail about what transpired between the artist, management and the Dream Team. The concert was scheduled for May 4, 2014 and on or around May 2nd, just two days prior to the event Cash Jones who served as The Game’s agent did not like the lineup of the show. He allegedly wanted his client to headline the event. Jones made a decision that The Game would not travel to Louisville and allegedly refused to return the $35,000 deposit.

The VIPP report have been in contact with Dream Team Entertainment and their attorney says they have no comment or statement concerning the pending lawsuit.

If you have a story idea send it to