'One Night in Miami': The Real Story Behind Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke's Meeting

Actress Regina King made her directorial debut in 2020 with One Night in Miami, a film depicting a meeting between boxing legend Muhammad Ali, civil rights leader Malcolm X, NFL legend Jim Brown and singer Sam Cooke. The film hit theaters as a limited release before landing on Amazon Prime and earning rave reviews. Here is the important information about the night.

King's new film, One Night in Miami, dramatizes the hours following Cassius Clay's upset victory over Sonny Liston. Clay (Eli Goree) headed out with Brown (Aldis Hodge), civil rights leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and singer-songwriter Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.). They went to the Hampton House Motel, a popular establishment among black visitors to Jim Crow–era Miami.

While the specific conversation details remain unknown, they marked a turning point in the boxer's life. Clay announced that he was a convert to the anti-integrationist Nation of Islam. He then later became known as Muhammad Ali.

According to the Smithsonian Mag, the story is accurate to a point. There is "extensive dramatic license, particularly in terms of the characters' conversations." The four figures were friends and did spend that night together in Miami, but the issues arose for Kemp Powers, the person who wrote the script. He told the Miami Herald during a 2018 interview that he had trouble tracking down "more than perfunctory information" about the events of the night in Miami.

One of the details about One Night in Miami that is incorrect focuses on Cooke and his song, "A Change Is Gonna Come." The film says that the singer-songwriter released the tune after experiencing the night out with his friends. However, the song released prior to the heavyweight bout.

Additionally, there are questions surrounding the accuracy of a conversation between the four men following the boxing match. Specifically, Malcolm X reportedly believed that Clay's victory over Liston was preordained by Allah. He then reportedly asked Brown if it was time for Clay to "get serious" and be less of a braggart.

"Well, Brown," Malcolm reportedly asked, "don't you think it's time for this young man to stop spouting off and get serious?" The Cleveland Browns star reportedly felt that Clay's new heavyweight title was "a platform from which to advance far more urgent matters." The dramatization continues with Malcolm X reportedly castigating Cooke for his lack of political commitment.


One Night in Miami is now available for streaming audiences on Amazon Prime. The film stars Aldis Hodge, Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Leslie Odom Jr. One Night in Miami currently has a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes.