The Greatest Fight of All Time: Muhammad Ali vs. Superman

So the other night I’m at a party, and I sneak away from the crowd around the pool, and wandering through the house for a bathroom—up the stairs, through a closed door, and WTF?! I’m in a man-cave to rival Batman’s layer: pool table; four flatscreen LCDs on the wall; framed baseball jerseys; signed basketballs; beer on tap; and atop a guitar amplifier, the most unreal statue of Muhammad Ali versus Superman.

Yeah, fucking Ali toe-to-to with the Man of Steel!

As both a comics and fight fan, this mash up was beyond comprehension. The Matrix glitching, for certain.

Each hero stood maybe eight inches high, and inspecting every angle of the thing, it was clearly official DC Comics merchandise. So I pulled out my phone, snapped a few pics (yah, I got the obligatory selfie of me lording over the two titans like a ginormous Joker), and as I turn to leave, I notice on the coffee table a hardbound comic depicting the same sculpture.

Screw the party. I poured a beer from the tap and settled in for a read.

Turns out, back in 1978 a galactic species surrounded the Earth with a monstrous fleet of spaceships, and their leader threatened to destroy the planet unless our greatest fighter challenged their greatest, mano y mano.

Both Superman and Ali stepped forward. The villainous leader demanded they fight each other, to determine the best. Only, here’s the wrinkle, Superman had to fight without his powers.

We’re talking red-sun-induced mortality…BAM!

Thirty minutes pass and I’m drooling on the pages, studying every word.

No shock that Sport’s merchandising is big business. Big, big business—estimated at $12.5 billion per year in the U.S. and Canada alone. Think jerseys, posters, calendars, action figures, video games. Attend UFC Expo and you’ll find more crap than you can fathom. And it’s an easy game to get into—just find some amateur fighter you think might break big, pay him/her a small amount for their likeness, say for a period of ten years, then sit back and pray he’s the next Brock Lesnar.

Independent licensing aside, and forget other milestones—TV ratings, endorsements, cameos in movies—I say the sport hasn’t ‘arrived’ until an MMA fighter steps onto the pages of a mainstream comic!

Sure, a few years back the UFC created promotional comics featuring Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, to hype their rematch. Cool, but it wasn’t an official comic.

Later, Quinton ‘Rampage’Jackson was featured in his own comic, which was, whatever, I’m not going to hate. Point is, not the same.

So will it ever happen? With GSP on the sidelines, and Anderson Silva recovering and probably never challenging for another belt, maybe Ronda could be the next Avenger. Maybe. But I say it’s going to take more than just breaking arms and appearing in cell phone commercials and movies—Ali transcended the ring because his moral courage spurred him to stand against the establishment who, he felt, were pursuing an unjust war.

Until that time, check out these awesome pieces featuring Fedor and Nick Diaz.


Concept drawn by the acclaimed 'Reverend' Dave Johnson, a cover artist for Marvel, DC, and more.
Concept drawn by the illustrious Dan Pansonian, whose work has appeared within every comic imprint.

Oh, so back to Superman versus Muhammad Ali (spoiler alert, for those who can’t find a copy, and/or don’t want to shell out $350 on eBay): Ali, using his superior skills, bested the mortal Superman. Which set up the biggest PPV broadcast of all time, beamed to thousands of worlds throughout the universe, all with Jimmy Olsen commentating. Of course Ali beat the monstrous Hun’Ya, as predicted, in the fourth round. After a few more conflicts, Ali and Superman saved the planet, and in the end, I poured myself another beer.

 

 

Check out this related story:

Fallon Fox, MMA's First Openly Transgender Fighter, Is a Super Hero