Ages ago, back when we used to run the Trent House Bar (see History), some people got in touch, out of the blue & asked to make an appointment to see us. They said they were from some film company called Bridge & Tunnel. We’d never heard of them before & we weren’t really sure what they were after, but as we always try to make time for people who make time for us, we met up with them anyway, to find out…
It turned out they were making a documentary, about a time in 1977, when Muhammad Ali had come to visit the North East, to have his marriage blessed in the Mosque in South Shields, with his wife & baby daughter Hana.
It was going to be called the King of South Shields. The thing was, to complete the documentary, they needed to travel over to America, to Chicago, so they could visit, interview & film footage, with the now adult Hana.
They had run out of loot to fund the film & asked us if we would be willing to put some money into it to help fund the trip. It wasn’t like an investment or anything, so we weren’t ever expecting to get anything back for it. But we really liked the sound of the project, so we agreed to anyway.
We had already named the downstairs floor of our Old Club (the original World Headquarters in Marlborough Crescent), the Muhammad Ali Cafe, as a tribute to the Champ.
The idea that a little known story about Muhammad might have gone untold if we didn’t help out, was not an option for us. We love Muhammad & have loved him all our lives. He has been such a strong, positive influence on us & many people like us, all over the world, for his whole life. So if we could assist Bridge & Tunnel to fund the making of this documentary about him, we were certainly well up for it.
We always try to help out any artists we can, if we are asked, as we think art matters. Tina, who was the film’s director, made a really big impression on us when we met. We took an instant liking to her, as we could see she was into the same kind of stuff as us & felt about Muhammad as we did. She loved him too & we could tell that, just from the way she spoke about the project.
We were not like loaded & just giving money away or anything, but we had such a strong feeling about this idea & all the personalities that were involved, that we were hooked after that first meeting. So we scuttled about, to try to put what cash we could muster, together for them. When it came time for them to go over to Chicago to film the footage, we went along too & helped humping a bit of the filming gear.
We’d never been to America before, so it was quite an adventure & a bit of an eye opener.
We met Muhammad’s Daughter Hana, who was really inspirational & we really connected with her as well. We hoped we might get to meet Muhammad, but he wasn’t in Chicago at the time we were there, so that didn’t come off for us.
We went to his ranch though, which was cool. Muhammad was aware of the film & Tina went back over again, at a later date & she met Muhammad & hooked him up with a copy.
Now some years later, Tina’s film company Bridge & Tunnel are now based on the 4th Floor of Curtis Mayfield House & it was Muhammad that brought us together.
Tina was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2013 & you can read all about that & her Film Company, over in the Curtis Mayfield House section.
THE DOCUMENTARY TRAILER
MUHAMMAD ALI & WORLD HEADQUARTERS
It’s a cool feeling, knowing we were able to go some little way to helping this documentary get made. We know how much work Tina’s gang put into it & we just came in at the tail end. That’s good karma though, after all Muhammad has done for us over the years, by inspiring us to always be brave, to push on & never sell out, or settle for being bums.
Here, on the right is our favourite ever Muhammad quote… Muhammad is the Champ & will always be the Champ in our eyes. He is a great, great man & we will always love him.
High above the stage in the downstairs Club, to the left as you look up at it, is a picture of Muhammad on the day he visited South Shields, totally surrounded by cops. It’s a great image, but one that’s so high up on the wall, you may have missed it..? This picture on the left must have been taken moments later. It too is good, but the one in the Club is way better. Look up & check it out the next time you come.
Here is a picture of a little painting our friend gave us one Xmas. We liked it so much that we got some of our art student chums, who were working with us in the Club at the time, to use it as the basis for them creating the massive Muhammad Ali mural we now have, up in the Club.
Like the King of South Shields documentary, it is another fitting tribute to the Ultimate Champ & Leader of our Movement for so many years. Rest in Power Brother x.