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Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler vs. Muhammad Ali: The ‘Greatest’ Fight There Never Was

January 17th, 2012 5 comments

King Ali appears to be goading Lawler into a royal showdown for the undisputed monarchy of the mat.

As the sporting world honors the 70th birthday of Muhammad Ali, I can’t help but wonder who would have won in a battle between the Memphis King of the ring and the Greatest.

Oh, sure, Jerry Lawler finished off “top-ranked boxer” Rocky Johnson at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis around the same time Ali danced his way to a snooze-fest draw with Antonio Inoki at Nippon Budokan Arena in Tokyo, but we’ll never know how these two elite athletes would have fared against each other in their primes. (Don’t even bring up the fact that Ali twisted the Man of Steel into a pretzel during their ’70s comics showdown, as Superman was fighting under a red sun, which neutralized his powers.)

Noted boxing/wrestling historian Bert Randolph Sugar notes that “Lawler and Ali actually would have matched up very well, as the King’s punches pack incredible power, not unlike a Sonny Liston or a George Foreman in his prime. The key would be Ali’s speed and conditioning, as Lawler was known to have trouble with faster athletes like Koko B. Ware and the King’s bouts rarely went past the 19-minute mark. But if Lawler caught Ali with a piledriver or a fireball–look out. Plus, you have to consider location–in Memphis, Lawler would have the advantage. But outdoors in Kinshasa, Zaire, [now the Democratic Republic of the Congo], Lawler likely would have succumbed to the oppressive heat and humidity by the time he removed his cape.”

Boxing experts often cite further evidence that Ali could have held his own against any wrestler by pointing to the following footage, which aired on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” on June 12, 1976. Then again, Buddy Wolfe is no Jerry Lawler. (See if you’re able to spot former AWA World champion Verne Gagne in the following clip–very subtle attire.)