Q: You knocked Ali down in the ninth round at the Richfield Coliseum. Was it legitimate or did you step on his foot?
A: I hit him with a right hand under the heart. It was a good shot. I could feel it all the way up to my shoulder. Two hours after the fight, Drew Bundini Brown came up with the story that I stepped on Ali’s foot. That’s a bunch of bunk. After I knocked Ali down, my trainer, Al Braverman, said to me, “He’s getting up … and he looks pissed off.”
Q: How did you first learn about Sylvester Stallone using you as the inspiration for Rocky?
A: One of his producers called me a couple of weeks after the fight. He told me Stallone had watched the fight on TV and then locked himself in a room for three days and wrote the movie. I went to the premiere in New York and was standing in a long line until the theater manager brought me inside. When the movie was over, people were jumping up and screaming.
Q: You’re an executive producer on a new film The Bleeder, starring Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Christina Hendricks. What can we expect from the movie?
A: I’m very excited about it, because I’ve been waiting for this for 10 years. The script has been rewritten, and they start shooting in New York next month. It’s not going to be like Rocky. It will be more like Goodfellas. It should be out around Christmas.
By Barry Goodrich