While researching the life of Muhammad Ali for Columbia Pictures' film about the boxer, writer Gregory Allen Howard said he developed tremendous admiration for the man.
"When you're around him, you don't even think about [his Parkinson's disease]," Howard said Monday by phone from Northern California. "I learned humility from Ali ... and sweetness. There's nobody like Ali. He treats everyone the same."
Howard wrote the original screenplay for the film based on more than 2,000 news articles and 50 interviews. In 1996, he traveled with Ali to Cuba to meet Fidel Castro. "Ali isn't easily impressed," Howard said. "But he was impressed with Fidel. He looked almost like a child when Fidel walked in. He was amazed."
"People under 35 years old don't really know what he was like when he was young," Howard said. "You just can't imagine what it was that the most famous man in the world was a black man who was articulate and funny and proud to be black."