Muhammad Ali Vs. Bruce Lee: The ultimate fantasy fight!

By James Slater - 08/23/2016 - Comments

Muhammad Ali had his “Anchor Punch.” Bruce Lee had his one-inch punch.

Ali had his “Shuffle.” Lee had lethal power in both feet.

And, yes, some fight fans have even debated, and did debate back in the early 1970s, over who would have won if these two iconic figures had met in a bout. Maybe the idea of Ali and Lee(who passed away, shockingly, in 1973) fighting isn’t all that crazy.

Ali did face wrestler Antonio Inoki in the 1970s (in a dreadful, unwatchable affair, wholly bereft of action) and, according to the 1987 Lee book, “The making of Enter The Dragon,” the martial arts legend spoke of how “everyone” was expecting him to fight Ali one day. Lee, according to the book, studied Ali on film and practiced his moves against him in front of a full-length mirror.

And as incredibly fast as he was, as dangerously powerful as he was, Lee did not feel he would have been capable of defeating the then ex-heavyweight king. Ali, a sleek and speedy heavyweight of approx 218-pounds at the time, standing 6’3,” would simply have been too big for the approx 130-pound, 5’7” Lee – so thought Lee himself.

Movie director Robert Clouse, who directed Lee in his final movie before the martial arts master’s untimely death, recounted the time Lee fought a make-believe fight with “The Greatest.” Lee put on an Ali video and placed the mirror opposite the TV screen so as to see Ali’s reflection and be able to move along with, and practice punches with Ali.

“Bruce saw him as the greatest fighter of them all,” Clouse said of Lee and his thoughts on Ali, as uncovered by web site Mass Appeal. “Bruce’s right hand followed Ali’s right hand, Ali’s left foot followed Bruce’s left foot. Bruce was fighting in Ali’s shoes. ‘Everybody says I must fight Ali some day.’ Bruce said, ‘I’m studying every move he makes.’ Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali. ‘Look at my hand,’ he said. ‘That’s a little Chinese hand. He’d kill me.’

So, make of that what you will, Ali and Lee fans!

The thinking is, if Ali had cracked Lee on the jaw with the type of right hand that felled the huge George Foreman, that would have been it. On the other hand, if Lee had been able to have got close enough and had caught Ali with one of his one-inch punches, Ali would have been badly hurt. As for kicks; forget it – Ali would have had no chance against Lee’s wicked weapons!

Perhaps the two would have met in an exhibition bout had Lee not died so suddenly (murdered according to some theories, having pushed his body too far during the making of his final film in the opinion of others). Lee remains an influence to millions today, as does Ali of course. The great Sugar Ray Leonard lists Bruce Lee as one of his biggest influences. I wonder if Sugar Ray has ever pondered the idea of a fantasy fight between himself and his hero?