Story and Photos by Pat Krause
PALM SPRINGS – Local World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley appeared at the opening of an acclaimed new film, “The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” at the Camelot Theatres on Sept. 11.
The Cathedral City native felt honored to be asked to address the audience prior to the showing of the documentary about the life and career of the world’s greatest boxer.
“The Trials of Muhammad Ali” follows the sometimes rocky rise and tribulations of the famous fighter who captured three heavyweight championship titles. Ali saw his share of controversy, changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali in the 1960s when he converted to Islam. He remained loyal to his beliefs when he went against the law and the U.S. in refusing to fight in the Viet Nam War and was sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence was eventually overturned and he returned to boxing.In addition to being a prize-winning pugilist, Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984 and turned 71 this year, is a humanitarian, actor, author and father to nine children.
Bradley, who is undefeated and whose next big match to defend his WBO title is against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on Oct. 12, is a hero and role model in the eyes of Coachella Valley youngsters — particularly those in the Boys and Girls Clubs, with whom he often works.
Bradley spoke about his admiration and respect for Ali, and how Ali influenced his own career direction — discussing many of the events in the famous boxer’s life. He recounted how Ali got into boxing after someone stole his bike at age 12.
“He wanted to whup the thief but had to learn to box first,” Bradley said. “It was the beginning of a huge career.”
Bradley also respected Ali’s choice to adhere to his religious beliefs, despite the consequences. He also noted Ali’s influence in the civil rights movement and how the boxer fought corruption in the world of boxing promotion.
Fans of Bradley, including many members of the Boys and Girls Clubs, greeted him as he arrived at the Camelot. Some wanted autographs or photos, while others just wanted to shake his hand.
Bradley brought his wife Monica and daughter Alaysia with him to the theater. Prior to the screening, he met with philanthropists and Camelot owners Ric and Rozene Supple, who are also members of the Palm Springs Cultural Center.