Muhammad Ali, who died Friday night, was not only a champion of human rights and an accomplished movie star, but he once saved the entire world from a race of evil aliens. At least, that is what happened in the special issue from DC Comics in 1978: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. As a master of the ring, Muhammad Ali defeated the likes of George Foreman, Leon Spinks, Joe Frazier and even Superman, earning himself the nickname of "The Greatest":
History of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
DC Comics is no stranger to teaming up superheroes with celebrities. There are stories with Superman and Bob Hope and JFK. At the time, Muhammad Ali was, in some ways, a cultural hero: a boxing legend and a defender of equal rights. DC thought it would be a hoot to team up the greatest boxer with the greatest superhero: Superman.
The story involved an alien race called the Scrubb that came to Earth looking to fight its mightiest champion or else they would destroy the world. Both Ali and Superman were the first take on this challenge.
The Scrubb decide to have a little contest: Both men will have to fight each other.
Muhammad Ali is easily outmatched by Superman's strength (that is powered from our Sun). To make the fight equal, both characters had to duke it out on the planet Bodace. Here, Superman's powers were weakened because of the false sun.
The Fight of Fights
With the stage set and Superman's powers reduced, the fists started flying. The entire fight was broadcasted throughout the DC universe. In the audience you can see the faces of famous heroes like Batman and the Flash alongside several celebrities: Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Andy Warhol and others.
Since Superman was no match for Ali's boxing prowess, the fight was soon over. Boy, did Superman lose.
This was the same way Ali was taken away in stretcher after his 1971 fight with Joe Frazier.
With Superman out of the picture, Ali became the champion of Earth. Soon he was fighting the alien's champion, Hun'Ya. Despite the alien still retaining its powers, Ali declares himself The Greatest. One of Ali's famous quotes is:
I’m not the greatest. I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round. I’m the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest fighter in the ring today.
He picks the 4th round to knock out Hun'Ya. While Ali is fighting, Superman recovers and starts to dismantle the Scrubbs from inside their ship. Eventually, the leader of the aliens is disposed by Hun'Ya, and Ali and Superman go back to Earth.
Once back on Earth, Ali tells Superman that he figured out he was Clark Kent but swears he will never tell anyone.