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Remembering Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali


By: David Troedson
Source: Elvis Australia
June 10, 2016 - 7:21:37 PM
Elvis Articles, Video and Audio, Elvis Photos, Elvis News, By David Troedson

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Muhammad Ali : 'People don't realize what they had till it's gone. Like President Kennedy, there was no one like him, the Beatles, and my man Elvis Presley. I was the Elvis of boxing'.

Remembering Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali elvis-presley-muhammad-ali My first hero, and a very good friend of and to Elvis, Muhammad Ali has died today. It is hardly surprising that Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley became good friends, their backgrounds were so similar and they became the two arms of the pincer movement of civil rights within entertainment and sport. Muhammad Ali : 'Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know'. My first hero, and a very good friend of and to Elvis, Muhammad Ali has died today. It is hardly surprising that Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley became good friends, their backgrounds were so similar and they became the two arms of the pincer movement of civil rights within entertainment and sport.

The special friendship between the legendary entertainer Elvis Presley and the unforgettable icon of boxing Muhammad Ali. Elvis and the celebrities - this topic is a favorite one in the Elvis fan world. During his successful career Elvis met dozens of stars from the international show-business. In most cases, a fan or a reporter took a snapshot but there's been always a lack of information of these meetings. 

Muhammad Ali : 'Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know'.

Muhammad Ali : 'Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know'. 'Elvis was my close personal friend. He came to my Deer Lake training camp about two years before he died. He told us he didn't want nobody to bother us. He wanted peace and quiet and I gave him a cabin in my camp and nobody even knew it. When the cameras started watching me train, he was up on the hill sleeping in the cabin. Elvis had a robe made for me. I don't admire nobody, but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know'.

Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley February 14, 1973.
Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley February 14, 1973.

Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali

On January 8, 1935, a baby was born in Tupelo, Mississippi into a family struggling through endless poverty, just 'white trash' in the minds of the white middle-class, a kid with no future. Elvis Presley went on to become the most important figure in entertainment history and, in the process, completely destroyed the established barriers of race.

On January 17, 1942, a baby was born in Louisville, Kentucky into a family struggling through endless poverty, just another 'black kid' in the minds of the white middle-class, a kid with no future.

Muhammad Ali went on to become the most important figure in boxing history and, in the process, completely destroyed the established barriers of race. A quality these two iconic figures shared was instinctive intelligence, much of the seemingly apocalyptic disruption they caused to the white status quo that then existed came not by design but as a result of their personalities and upbringings. They didn't, at least initially, seem to know what they were doing, they were being themselves.

It is hardly surprising that Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley became good friends, their backgrounds were so similar and they became the two arms of the pincer movement of civil rights within entertainment and sport. Given that the civil rights in question were those that should have always belonged to all in America, it was crucial that the movement was supported by prominent figures from both black and white communities.

I think mutual respect is the best description of the nature of Ali and Elvis' relationship.

***image10***Elvis gives Muhammad Ali an 'Elvis style' Robe

On February 14, 1973 just one month after hie Aloha from Hawaii concert, Elvis Presley presented Muhammad Ali with an 'Elvis Style' robe emblazoned with the words, 'People's Choice' on the back in rhinestones and jewels. The wording was a mistake as Ali was known as the 'The Peoples Champion', Elvis was very upset about this but it too late. Ali thanked Elvis for the robe then went directly to the Las Vegas Convention Center for his fight that night against Joe Bugner where he wore Elvis' robe for the first time that night - and he went on to win a unanimous decision. Often the story is told he did not wear it this night, but as you can see in the video clip below, he sure did, and he won the fight too!

Elvis Presley Video The story of the robe (03:42)

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Muhammad Ali: 'Elvis had a robe made for me. I don't admire nobody, but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know'.

Ferdie Pacheco: (Ali's fight doctor): 'I was there the time Elvis presented Ali with the robe. It was in Las Vegas in February '73 and it was really something to see. They really didn't know what to do with each other. Obviously Elvis was enthralled to be in Ali's presence, but so was Ali, he loved Elvis. He wasn't really into the music, but he said, 'Boy, that guy can dance. What an entertainer'. Elvis came in to Ali's hotel room with the robe, 'The People's Champ' written on the back in jewels. Ali sees Elvis coming in and says, 'Hey, that's Elvis, man. He looks pretty good!' And both of them looked at each other like good-looking women would look at each other to appraise how they look.

Elvis Presley Video Muhammad Ali February 14, 1973 : wearing the Robe (03:33)

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A month later on March 31, 1973, Ali did wear the 'Elvis robe' into the ring for his fight against Ken Norton in San Diego, California. The television commentator for the fight said 'That robe was given by Elvis Presley at his last fight in Las Vegas. It cost around $3000.00 and it's Ali's pride and joy'' Ali lost the fight and never again wore the robe into the ring again considering it bad luck. He did wear it again in this photo before it was put on display.

Then on March 31, 1973 Ali again wore the robe for his fight with Ken Norton in San Diego, California. Ali lost this fight on points and had his jaw broken in the last round. Considering the robe 'bad luck' he never wore it again.

Elvis Presley Video Muhammad Ali March 31, 1973 : wearing the Robe (02:40)

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Elvis News Latest Audio (and video) updates : Video courtesy of Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Video Central.

Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley February 14, 1973.
Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley February 14, 1973.

Joe Bugner wanted a robe too

Joe Bugner : I said 'Excuse me, Elvis that's a beautiful robe you gave Ali. I'd love one like that because, as you know I'm also a champion'. But Elvis turns around and says 'you're no champion' just like that. I told Elvis to get stuffed and I walked out. Elvis' bodyguard, Red West, comes over and says 'hey man whatya doin ... no one speaks to the King like that'. I said 'mate, you tell Elvis he's a ****head'. (Well he certainly did not have a way with words like Ali)

Muhammad Ali wearing the robe and Elvis Presley had given him. vs Ken Norton March 31, 1973.
Muhammad Ali wearing the robe and Elvis Presley had given him. vs Ken Norton March 31, 1973.

Muhammad Ali wearing the robe and Elvis Presley had given him. vs Ken Norton March 31, 1973.
Muhammad Ali wearing the robe and Elvis Presley had given him. vs Ken Norton March 31, 1973.

The robe and Elvis Presley gave Muhammad Ali.
The robe and Elvis Presley gave Muhammad Ali.

Ali also recalled taking Elvis out to a club one night dressed in a disguise because, had the clientele known it were Elvis, he would have been mobbed whilst Ali was a familiar face there. They must have been like two big kids together and I think it is a tragedy that Elvis didn't get to spend more time with Muhammad.

Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley.
Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley.

I bought a poster of Elvis as above, but with Muhammad cropped out from Jimmy Velvet in Melbourne 1982. it was many years later that I found out my very much loved, (and later) framed photo actually was taken with Muhammad Ali at Elvis side. (i still have the poster today).

Vernon Presley and Muhammad Ali.
Vernon Presley and Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali paying his respect to Elvis (Jack Soden is to his left).
Muhammad Ali paying his respect to Elvis 1984 (Jack Soden is to his left).

Muhammad Ali at the 'Hard Rock' cafe 1988.
Muhammad Ali at the 'Hard Rock' cafe 1988.

Elvis Presley Video The DVD Elvis Adrenaline '71 of the Las Vegas Anthology series tells you more about the meeting of Elvis and Muhammad Ali and gives more information about the legendary Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali fight at Madison Square Garden March 8, 1971. The producers of the DVD are especially proud to present you a rare audio-sample of this historic event. Beside this meeting the 'Elvis Adrenaline '71' DVD documents all other events in Elvis' career of the year 1971 and along the documentary there are never before released Super8mm footage clips of the Las Vegas performances by Elvis in incredible quality - digitally transferred and crystal clear.

Buy Elvis Adrenaline '71

Articles about Elvis Presley  Elvis Presley and Racism : The Ultimate, Definitive Guide

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Articles about Elvis Presley  Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr
Articles about Elvis Presley  Jackie Wilson and Elvis Presley
Articles about Elvis Presley  Lionel Rose and Elvis Presley
Articles about Elvis Presley  Elvis' musical style, as a musician and impact as a vocalist and stage performer
Articles about Elvis Presley  Ernest Withers : Eye on Elvis : Camera Captured Pictures Of Early Elvis


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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.