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Muhammad Ali and the fight that may have inspired MMA




Image of the match between Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki and Muhammed Ali.
Image of the match between Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki and Muhammed Ali.
Image of the match between Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki and Muhammed Ali.
Cover art for "Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment," by Josh Gross.


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Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee ... Muhammad Ali was known by most as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.  

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, he began boxing when he was only 12, and quickly gained stardom when he won a gold medal at 18 at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

But shortly afterwards, he announced that his conversion to Islam and that his name would be Muhammed Ali.

His fights against the likes of George Foreman and Joe Frazier are the stuff of legend. Yet there are some little known bouts that are worthy of attention. One of those is an improbable and unusual match between Ali and a Japanese wrestler names Antonio Inoki. Here's a clip from a film by Bobby Razak about the match:

Author Josh Gross details the fight in his new book, "Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment."

(click on the arrow above to hear the entire interview)