Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, died June 3 at a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz. at age 74.
The above photo was taken in a boxing ring on March 31, 1974. Notice anything familiar about the rhinestone and jewel design? Looks like what Elvis had on several of his jumpsuits, doesn’t it? Well, it should. Elvis gave it to him the year before.
Here they are in Ali’s suite in the Las Vegas Hilton in 1973. It is reported that Elvis gave the robe to him on February 14, 1973 shortly before Ali’s fight with Joe Bugner. Ali did not wear it at the Las Vegas Convention Center that night, but he won the fight.
Here is the back view of the robe. According to some sources, Elvis had directed it to say People’s Champion, but somebody screwed up and did People’s Choice. Naturally, Elvis was very upset about the mistake, but it was too late to do anything about it. The robe cost a reported $3,000, and Ali was thrilled to receive it.
He did wear it to the ring for his next fight on March 31, 1973 against Ken Norton. Ali lost the fight, which made him decide the robe was bad luck, and he never wore it again. The 1974 photo above was a staged shot.
So was this one taken at the Hard Rock Café in 1988.
Here is another example of the Elvis Presley/Muhammad friendship: Elvis. You are the Greatest Fan. Muhammad Ali. Peace 1973.
“Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to meet.”
Although I cannot find anything to corroborate it, it seems likely Ali used this backstage pass at an Elvis concert in Las Vegas.
It looks like Vernon and Col. Parker got to spend some time with Muhammad Ali as well.
Muhammad Ali came to Graceland in 1984 and paid his respect Elvis at the Meditation Garden.
“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.”
The robe Elvis gave Muhammad Ali is now on display in the Ali Center in Louisville, KY.
At one point, Elvis and Ali were the two most recognizable human beings on the planet. Even in death, they may still be.
“I was the Elvis of boxing.”
We’ll miss you Muhammad Ali. Say hi to Elvis for us.
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