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30 for 30 Shorts: Robbed

Our latest film, from Emmy Award–winning director Eric Drath, brings us to the intersection of boxing injustice and urban chaos in the 1970s.

Welcome back to our 30 for 30 documentary short series.

In 1976, Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton met inside the ring at Yankee Stadium. The conclusion of the fight would go down as one of the most controversial decisions in boxing. But the civil unrest around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx — and in New York City as a whole — became the story of the evening.

And it’s also what makes this documentary short topical, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because history always repeats itself.

As the momentous bout — popularly dubbed Ali-Norton III — took place in the stadium, a protest was taking place outside, one that allowed all manner of hostility and criminal activity to occur in the Bronx. The police? They were on strike. And that’s the part of this story that’s difficult to wrap your brain around in the wake of Ferguson. This idea of law officers walking off the job to protest being pushed around, being thought of as second-class citizens, followed by marches, protests, and shows of solidarity obviously has funhouse-mirror echoes in 2014.

This short, green-lit in October 2013 and planned for this December almost a year ago, was not meant to have a direct parallel to the real world upon release. But now that we’re here, it’s impossible to consider it without acknowledging what has happened in America in the second half of 2014 — the reality that while certain sectors of society have changed, others are very much the same; that there are still voices that feel disenfranchised, easy scapegoats, sectors of society that live with both legitimate and imagined terror. But reconsidering the meaning of this (excellent) documentary in that light is a good thing. Because we need to constantly be reminded of where we come from. And of how far we have, and haven’t, come.

And with that, please enjoy Eric Drath’s Robbed. 

—Rembert Browne

Director’s statement: Eric Drath

Recent 30 for 30 Shorts

Our Tough Guy, directed by Molly Schiot »
The Great Trade Robbery, directed by Stuart Zicherman »
Fields of Fear, directed by Alex Gibney »
Kid Danny, directed by Andrew Cohn »
The High Five, directed by Michael Jacobs »