Sunday, August 29, 2021

Mr Fayed Hassan and Mohammad Ali

In 1977, in a typically flamboyant gesture, the boxer Mohammad Ali visited the unsung town of South Shields, near Newcastle, in the northeast of England.

Mr Fayed Hassan
Ali had been invited by one Johnny Walker, a local painter and decorator who knew the legend from his active boxing days, to help raise money for his club in the town. Astonishingly the three-time world champion agreed — touring the borough in an open bus to a rapturous reception from thousands of admirers. He played darts, sparred with a professional fighter and larked about in the ring with the local lads.

The world might have forgotten that extraordinary day, but it is still talked about in the town.

Iranian director Tina Gharavi made a documentary on the event, interviewing the few remaining members of the Yemeni Islamic community.

The result is an exhibition at the Mosaic Rooms, in West London, which combines a documentary on Ali’s visit entitled “The King of South Shields” with videoed testimonies from 14 of the men, the last surviving children of the first generation who settled in South Shields.

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