“Boxing Writers and Movie Night”
Movies and stories about Gene Tunney, George Bernard Shaw, Muhammad Ali and others
The U.S. Premiere of the movie “When Ali Came To Ireland”
Thursday April 25, 7pm - 9pm
Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona
Admission, $15 general public, $12 for Irish Center members
Exhibit Preview 5pm – 7pm
Boxing aficionados, popular culture buffs and fans of Irish literature alike will share their common interests in books and movies about famous boxers in this one-of-a-kind event that includes Jay Tunney, son of the famous Gene Tunney and the U.S. premiere of a new movie about Muhammad Ali. The event is sponsored by the McClelland Irish Library in conjunction with their current exhibit on boxing history, “The Fighting Irishmen”.
There will be an U.S. premiere showing of the new documentary, "When Ali Came to Ireland", which has only been shown in Ireland on RTÉ Irish Television last December. The film tells the remarkable story behind the origins of Muhammad Ali's fight against Al ‘Blue’ Lewis in Croke Park, Dublin in July 1972. The fight was organised and co-promoted by a former circus-strongman, a London-based publican Butty Sugrue who pulled off a huge sporting coup for Ireland when he brought Muhammad Ali to Ireland. Using rare RTÉ archive and personal footage recorded at the time, this film tells the remarkable story behind the origins of the fight – and the fall-out from it – and talks to those who encountered Ali during his time in Dublin.
Jay Tunney will be discussing his book about his father’s friendship with George Bernard Shaw, "The Prizefighter and the Playwright " a story about the champion boxer and a celebrated Irish author. Gene Tunney was the world heavyweight-boxing champion from 1926 to 1928 and formed a friendship with George Bernard Shaw, the world-famous playwright, who found the Irish-American athlete to be "among the very few for whom I have established a warm affection." “The Prizefighter and the Playwright” chronicles the relationship between this celebrated odd couple. Tunney will share little-known stories from his own family collection and will have books on-hand for sale and autographs. “Fighting Irishmen” Exhibit Curator, Jim Houlihan of New York, makes a return visit to the valley to show movie clips of famous fights of Irish boxers such as Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney and others. The “Fighting Irishmen” exhibit in the McClelland Library will be open for 2 hours prior to the event from 5pm – 7pm and will be free to anyone attending the evening event. Admission is $15 at the door with a discount for members. Sponsorships start at $25 which includes two free tickets. There will be a cash bar at the event.
“The Fighting Irishmen” Exhibit
“The Fighting Irishmen” is being held over by popular demand through June 2013 and features over 1000 items on the history of boxing in the United States. It includes a special section on valley resident Muhammad Ali which highlights his great-grandfather’s connection to Phoenix’s Sister City of Ennis, County Clare, Ireland. Co-sponsored by the McClelland Irish Library and the Irish Arts Center of New York, this is the first U.S. show on view outside of New York or Boston and the first major international traveling exhibit to be shown at the new library, which opened in 2012. The exhibit runs through June 30, 2013, and is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesdays; and 6 - 9 p.m. on First Fridays of the month. For more information, go to: azirishlibrary.org or call 602-864-2351 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesdays - Saturdays
(The Irish Cultural Center & McClelland Irish Library, The Heart Of The Celtic Community, are Divisions of the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation a 501 (c) (3) Not For Profit Corporation, and are owned and maintained by the City Of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.)
“When Ali Came to Ireland” is a new documentary that tells the story of how Butty Sugrue, a circus strongman from Killorglin, Co Kerry, pulled off a huge sporting coup for Ireland in July 1972 when he brought Muhammad Ali to Ireland.
Using rare RTÉ archive and personal footage recorded at the time, this film tells the remarkable story behind the origins of the fight – and the fall-out from it – and talks to those who encountered Ali during his time in Dublin. Among them the late RTÉ broadcaster, Cathal O’Shannon, in his last recorded TV interview. And, from his home in Detroit, Al ‘Blue’ Lewis, and tells how, having been sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter, he ended up going eleven rounds with The Greatest in Dublin, Ireland.
The documentary also features contributions from, among others, Rock Brynner – the son of actor Yul Brynner – who was a confidante of Ali and who was part of his entourage in Ireland, the former Kilkenny hurler, Eddie Keher, who famously taught Ali how to use a hurley and sliothar as part of the pre-publicity for the fight, journalist and broadcaster Dave Hannigan, author of ‘The Big Fight’, and the respected American sports journalist George Kimball, who attended the fight in Dublin.
The Prizefighter and the Playwright
Book Review, from Amazon.com:
" The Prizefighter and the Playwright " is a curious story of the unlikely relationship between a champion boxer and a celebrated man of letters. Gene Tunney, the world heavyweight-boxing champion from 1926 to 1928, seemed an unusual companion for George Bernard Shaw, but Shaw, a world-famous playwright, found the Irish-American athlete to be "among the very few for whom I have established a warm affection." The Prizefighter and the Playwright chronicles the legendary -- but rarely documented -- relationship that formed between this celebrated odd couple.
From the beginning, it seemed a strange relationship, as Tunney was 40 years younger and the men could not have occupied more different worlds. Yet it is clear that these two famous men, comfortable on the world stage, longed for friendship when they were out of the celebrity spotlight. Full of surprises and revelations about Shaw and Tunney, this handsome book is also a fascinating look at their times.
Author Jay R. Tunney is the son of the famous fighter, and his book is a beautifully woven and often surprising biography of the two men. The book evolved from the acclaimed BBC radio program The Master and the Boy.
Fans of George Bernard Shaw will enjoy the little-known stories in this intensely personal account that includes never-before-published images from Tunney's own family collection.