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Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali


By: David Troedson
Source: Elvis Australia
October 9, 2018
Elvis Articles, Video and Audio, Elvis Photos, Elvis News, Elvis & Racism

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The special friendship between the King Of Rock 'N Roll', Elvis Presley and the 'Greatest of all time', boxing legend Muhammad Ali is as fascinating as it is lacking in detailed information. Here is what we do know ...

On February 14, 1973 Elvis 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. 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! As an aside Sammy Davis Jr was ringside for the fight and bought into the ring post fight by Ali.

Al wore the robe a second time, entering the ring on March 31, 1974 at the Sports Arena in San Diego California, for his first fight with Ken Norton. The television commentator can be heard to say '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. On the back it says 'The People's Choice' in rhinestones and jewels and he loves it'. Ali lost the fight (only the second professional fight he had ever lost) and never again wore the robe considering it bad luck.

Before the Joe Bugner fight the referee can be heard to say 'quite a robe Muhammad'.

Interestingly Ali was introduced as 'The Peoples Choice' by the referee for the Ken Norton fight.

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

Muhammad Ali wearing the 'Elvis robe'

Elvis Presley Video Muhammad Ali | February 14, 1973 (03:33)

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Karate Vs Boxing

Because of Elvis' involvement in karate, someone made a comment about karate vs boxing and Elvis and Ali quickly put there 'dukes' up as a hotel photographer snapped this now famous photo.

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

Elvis Presley Video Muhammad Ali | March 31, 1973 (02:40)

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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.

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. 'Elvis was my close personal friend. He 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'.

Elvis Presley Video The Story of the Robe (03:42)

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

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'. (Hey Joe, you don't ask for gifts! It was you who was the ****head).

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.

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

Elvis, Ali and Joe Frazier

Before Elvis' Dinner Show performance at the Las Vegas Hilton on January 28, 1974, Elvis watched the Ali-Frazier fight in his suite. He then went on stage, and after a few songs, Elvis told the audience 'Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to our show. In case you're interested Muhammad Ali won the fight in the 12th round'. The audience cheered for 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.

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

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.

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.

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. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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.