Muhammad Ali in media and popular culture

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This article covers the boxer Muhammad Ali's appearances in media and popular culture.

Pop art painting of Muhammad Ali by John Stango

Books[edit]

  • The Cassius Clay Story, by George Sulivan (1964)
  • Black is Best: The Riddle of MUHAMMAD ALI, by Jack Olsen (1967)
  • Muhammad Ali, who once was Cassius Clay, by John Cottrell (1968)
  • Loser and Still Champion: Muhammad Ali, by Budd Schulberg (1972)
  • The Fight, by Norman Mailer (1975)
  • The Greatest: My Own Story, by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham (1975)
  • Free to Be Muhammad Ali, by Robert Lipsyte (1979)
  • Muhammad Ali, the People's Champ, by Elliott J. Gorn (1988)
  • Muhammad Ali: The Fight for Respect, by Thomas Conklin (1992)
  • Clay V. United States: Muhammad Ali Objects to War (Landmark Supreme Cou-rt Cases), by Suzanne Freedman (1997)
  • The Tao of Muhammad Ali, by Davis Miller (1997)
  • I'm A Little Special: A Muhammad Ali Reader, by Gerald Early (1998)
  • King of the World, by David Remnick (1999)
  • More Than a Champion: The Style of Muhammad Ali, by Jan Philipp Reemtsma (1999)
  • Learning About Strength of Character from the Life of Muhammad Ali (Character Building Book), by Michele Ingber Drohan (1999)
  • Muhammad Ali (Journey to Freedom), by Clay Latimer (2000)
  • Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties, by Mike Marqusee (2000)
  • The Greatest, by Walter Dean Myers (2001)
  • Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World, by Mark Collings (2001)
  • Ghosts of Manila, by Mark Kram (2002)
  • Lucky Man: A Memoir, by Michael J. Fox (2002)
  • Muhammad Ali: Trickster Celebrity in the Culture of Irony, by Charles Lemert (2003)
  • The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey, by Muhammad Ali and Hana Ali (2004)
  • The Untold Legacy Of Muhammad Ali, by Thomas Hauser (2005)
  • Clay V. United States And How Muhammad Ali Fought the Draft: Debating Supreme Court Decisions, by Thomas Streissguth (2006)
  • What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States, by Dave Zirin (2005)
  • The psychodynamics of white racism: An historical exploration of white racial pathology as elicited by prizefighters Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali : (Dissertation), by Michal Louise Beale (2006)
  • I'm a Bad Man: African American Vernacular Culture and the Making of Muhammad Ali, by Shawn Williams[disambiguation needed] (2007)

Theater[edit]

  • In Billy Elliot the Musical when Billy's boxing coach sets up a match between Billy and Michael, he points to each in turn saying, "You are Muhammad Ali and you are Cassius Clay".

Institutions[edit]

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ—One of the world's largest dedicated Parkinson's Centers

Magazine articles[edit]

Ali appeared on the cover of the April 1968 issue of Esquire magazine in the style of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian after his conscientious objection to the Vietnam War and the subsequent stripping of his boxing title.
  • Playboy - Interview: Cassius Clay, by Hugh M. Hefner (October 1964)
  • Life Magazine - Cover: Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), by Editor Henry Luce (March 6, 1964)
  • Esquire - "The Passion of Muhammad Ali", by George Lois (April 1968)
  • Life Magazine - Cover: Muhammad Ali, by Editor Henry Luce (October 23, 1970)
  • Life Magazine - Cover: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, by Editor Henry Luce (March 5, 1971)
  • Life Magazine - Cover: Ali vs Frazier by Frank Sinatra, by Editor Henry Luce (March 19, 1971)
  • Time Magazine - "The Greatest is Gone Muhammad Ali * Much Ado About Haldeman", (February 27, 1978)
  • ESPN Sports Century - "Muhammad Ali: "The Greatest" by Joyce Carol Oates (1999)
  • Time Magazine - "100 Heroes & Icons: Muhammad Ali", by George Plimpton (June 14, 1999)
  • "UN Messengers of Peace reflect on their work. (Muhammad Ali, Jane Goodall and Anna Cataldi)" An article from UN Chronicle, (2005)
  • "The fight of his life: boxing Great Muhammad Ali battles Parkinson's disease" An article from: Science World, by Mona Chiang (2006)

Poetry and quotations[edit]

Trading cards[edit]

  • The 1971 Barratt & Co. LTD is generally considered to be Clay/Ali's true rookie card as it meets most collector's definition of a rookie card. Although it's not his first card, it's widely accepted as his Rookie Card. Example: Tiger Woods RC is the 2001 SP Authentic /900. However, it was not Tiger's first card by a long shot. Ali did not appear on an American trading card until 1982 with an appearance in a Topps Olympic set.

Illustrated books[edit]

  • Ali Rap: Muhammad Ali the First Heavyweight Champion of Rap, by George Lois (2006)
  • The Rough Guide to Muhammad Ali, by Ann Oliver (2004)

Photography[edit]

  • Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend, Miami, 1961–1964, by Flip Schulke (1999)
  • GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), TASCHEN's massive 800-page tribute weighs 75 lbs; limited "Champ's Edition" is autographed by Muhammad Ali and comes with a sculpture by Jeff Koons (2004)
  • Muhammad Ali, by Dave Anderson and Magnum Photographers (2006)
  • Greatest Of All Time - A Tribute To Muhammad Ali, First published by TASCHEN as a limited collector's edition, TASCHEN reprinted in a slimmed down format from 75 lbs to 20 lbs, still containing thousands of images—photography, art and memorabilia—from over 100 photographers and artists, 2 gatefold sequences, original essays as well as the best interviews and writing of the last five decades (2010)

Comics[edit]

Books for children[edit]

Music[edit]

  • In 1976 Ali released the album Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay, to educate children about the dangers of tooth decay. The album was narrated by Howard Cosell, with guest appearances by Frank Sinatra and Richie Havens. A sequel Ali and His Gang vs. Fat Cat the Dope King was planned, but apparently never released.
  • Ali himself released a 45rpm version of the song "Stand by Me" (written by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), a track which also featured on his 1963 Columbia album I am the Greatest (released under the name Cassius Clay).
  • Bob Dylan composed a song which referenced the young Cassius Clay "I Shall be Free No. 10" from the 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan featuring the lyrics: I was shadow-boxing earlier in the day; I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay; I said "Fee, fie, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come; 26, 27, 28, 29; I'm gonna make your face look just like mine; Five, four, three, two, one, Cassius Clay you'd better run; 99, 100, 101, 102; your ma won't even recognize you; 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19; gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen.
  • In December 1969, Ali appeared on Broadway in the musical Buck White.[1] The show ran for just seven performances; but Ali and the cast performed the number "We Came in Chains" on The Ed Sullivan Show.
  • In Tom Lehrer's satirical song "National Brotherhood Week", Lehrer speculates that for the occasion Cassius Clay would dance "cheek to cheek" with Mrs Wallace.
  • In 1970, Skeeter Davis recorded "I'm a Lover (Not a Fighter)" about a wife frustrated with fighting with her husband. The chorus is "I'm a lover,/Not a fighter./I kinda like it that way./If you want a fighting partner,/Go live with Cassius Clay."
  • In 1971, New York singer Vernon Harrell released a record about him called "Muhammed Ali" (sic) (Brunswick Records #55448) as Verne Harrell. This misspelling of Ali's name was printed on the labels of the 45s.
  • In 1975, a song about Ali titled "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)" was recorded by British reggae group Johnny Wakelin & the Kinshasa Band. Ali did not approve of the song and completely shunned it.[2]
  • In 1981, Dutch guitarist Harry Sacksioni composed and played a song called "Ali's Shuffle".
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds' 1986 song Tuff Enuff contains the reference, "I'd climb the Empire State / Fight Muhammad Ali / Just to have you, baby / Close to me."
  • The Freakwater song "Louisville Lip" on their 1998 album Springtime is a tribute to Muhammad Ali framed around the story Ali told in his 1975 autobiography about tossing his gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service in a nearby diner.
  • In his early 20s, singer-songwriter and piano impresario Ben Folds wrote the song "Boxing", a fictional monologue by Muhammad Ali to Howard Cosell pondering the end of his fighting career. The song was inspired by Folds' father's love of the sport.[3] The song was eventually recorded and appeared on Ben Folds Five's eponymous album (1995). It has also appeared in a live version on the album Naked Baby Photos (1998), a solo version by Folds on iTunes Originals - Ben Folds (2005), and in a symphonic version with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra on the DVD Ben Folds and WASO Live in Perth (2005). The song has also been covered by a number of artists, most notably Bette Midler on her album Bathhouse Betty (1998).
  • The R. Kelly song "World's Greatest" is a tribute to Muhammad Ali and it is featured on the soundtrack to the 2001 motion picture Ali. In 2002, the song peaked at #34 on Billboard's Hot 100 US singles chart and at #4 on the UK singles chart. The song's video features archived footage of Ali as well as an homage to the firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical workers regarded among the greatest heroes of the rescue operations necessitated by the events of 9/11.
  • The British dance band Faithless recorded a song titled "Muhammad Ali" which was released as a single on September 23, 2001. The single reached #29 on the UK singles chart. The song was included on their 2001 album Outrospective.
  • In 2001, he was mentioned (under the name Cassius Clay) in the lyrics to De Phazz's Death By Chocolate album in the song "Something Special".
  • In their debut 2006 album, British Indie band The Hours mention Ali in their song "Ali in The Jungle".
  • Australian alternative band Butterfingers mention Cassius Clay in their song "Fig Jam"
  • A line from LL Cool J's 1991 single "Mama Said Knock You Out" off of his album of the same name goes: "Just like Muhammad Ali, they called him Cassius"
  • Muhammad Ali appears in the music video for "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty in an old black and white videoclip of him boxing.
  • Japanese rock band the pillows released a song on their 2001 album Smile called "Monster C.C," the C.C standing for "Cassius Clay." The ending bridge contains the repeated line, "What's my name?" In another song, "Hello, Welcome to Bubbletown's Happy Zoo" the group quotes Ali with lines "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
  • The Tori Amos song "Professional Widow" contains the lyrics "Beautiful angels calling/"we got every re-run of Muhammad Ali""
  • 50 Cent references Ali in the song "Many Men" using the lyrics "I'm the greatest, something like Ali in his prime"
  • T.I. references Ali in the song "No Matter What" using the lyrics "Ali say even the greatest gotta suffer sometime"
  • In Billy Joel's 1978 album, 52nd Street, Ali is mentioned in the opening lines of the song "Zanzibar".
  • In Will Smith's album Big Willie Style in the song "Gettin Jiggy With It" Ali is mentioned : "See me on the fifty line yard with the Raiders, met Ali, told me I'm The Greatest"

Movies and television[edit]

When We Were Kings is a 1996 Academy Award-winning documentary film about the "Rumble in the Jungle", Ali's legendary 1974 fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).[4]

The High School Cheer squad in Happy Harbor on the cartoon Young Justice use Ali "Floats like a butterfly Stings like a bee" line as their cheer. The Schools team name is the bumblebee's.

Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami is a 2008 WLRN documentary which charts Cassius Clay's remarkable transformation from young boxing hopeful to cultural icon.[5] The film traces Ali’s stunning rise through the heavyweight ranks, his friendship with Malcolm X, his historic clash with champion Sonny Liston, and his subsequent refusal to fight in Vietnam.

a.k.a. Cassius Clay is a 1970 documentary that covered Ali's triumphs and setbacks up to that moment in time.[6]

The documentary When Ali Came to Ireland (2012) tells the story of Ali's first visit to Ireland to fight against Alvin Lewis in July 1972.

Numerous individuals have portrayed Ali in film biographies, including Ali himself in the 1977 film, The Greatest.[7] Others include:

Ali has appeared as himself in numerous scripted films and television series, including the films Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962),[14] Body and Soul (1981),[15] and Doin' Time (1985);[16] and the television series Vega$ (1979),[17] Diff'rent Strokes (1979),[18] and Touched by an Angel (1999).[19] He also provided the voice for the titular character in the 1977 NBC animated series, I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.[20]

Ali portrayed a former slave in Reconstruction-era Virginia who is elected to the United States Senate in the 1979 NBC TV movie Freedom Road, which was based upon the 1944 novel by Howard Fast.[22]

Ali is featured prominently in a series of ESPN specials in honor of his 65th birthday. The shows include Ali Rap, Ali's Dozen and Ali 65. They premiered on December 9, 2006 at 9 pm EST on ESPN. Ali's fight with Larry Holmes was also the subject of one of ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series; "Muhammad and Larry" by Albert Maysles first aired on ESPN on October 27, 2009.

Ali appeared on the WGBH series Say Brother, where he spoke about his reasons for not serving in the Vietnam War.[23]

Facing Ali is a 2009 documentary on the topic of all the fighters which Ali faced during his career. Each one is interviewed at length. The film made the shortlist for the 82nd Academy Awards in the category of Best Documentary Feature, but did not make final list.

His boxing gloves made an appearance on the Christmas episode of Warehouse 13. Anyone on the vicinity of them "sees stars' without being hit. Was used by Claudia to make the Warehouse more festive.

  • In the Total Drama Action episode, "Crouching Courtney, Hidden Owen", Duncan mentions Muhammad Ali after Harold's reaction to bees.

Television advertisements[edit]

In 1969, Ali appeared with Pop Icon Andy Warhol in a short-lived television campaign for Braniff International Airways. The commercial was not well-received by Braniff's customer base and was pulled from the airwaves in 1970.

In 1971, Ali appeared in a television commercial for Vitalis[disambiguation needed] alongside fellow boxer Joe Frazier, and he appeared in a 1997 Super Bowl TV commercial for Pizza Hut with his real-life trainer Angelo Dundee.

In 1980 Ali also appeared in a very amusing television ad for D-Con Roach Proof: after hitting a heavy bag (a training device suspended from above that simulates the bulk of an opponent for punching), he turns to the camera in his boxing gear, raises and shakes a fist, and exclaims to the audience, "I don' want you livin' wit' roaches!"

Ali appeared in one of the posters for the "Think Different" campaign by Apple Computer in 1997.

Has appeared in at least one poster advertising Coca-Cola.

Ali appears with other famous athletes in a Gatorade advertisement, narrated by rapper Lil Wayne.

Video games[edit]

Ali has appeared in numerous video boxing games, some of which feature him as the title character. Examples include Foes of Ali, Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing and the Knockout Kings series and its follow up, the Fight Night series.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Internet Broadway Database http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3305
  2. ^ allmusic ((( Johnny Wakelin - Biography )))
  3. ^ michaelbluejay.com
  4. ^ "When We Were Kings". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ "A.k.a. Cassius Clay". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "The Greatest - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Ali - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3051944/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
  10. ^ a b "King of the World - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Ali: An American Hero - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Don King: Only in America". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  13. ^ "American Gangster - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Requiem for a Heavyweight". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Body and Soul". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Doin' Time". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Vega$: The Eleventh Event". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Diff'rent Strokes: Arnold's Hero". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Touched by an Angel: Fighting the Good Fight". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  20. ^ "I Am the Greatest". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  21. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3051944/
  22. ^ "Freedom Road". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  23. ^ Muhammad Ali and the Vietnam War