Under the Influence: Muhammad Ali

Wanna dress like fighting's dapperest man? He wasn't Irish.

August 23, 2017 9:00 am

This is Under the Influence, a series on the intersection of pop culture and menswear, and how to update some of history’s most enduring looks for the here and now.

Forty-one years ago, Muhammad Ali fought Antonio Inoki in one of the lesser-known bouts of his illustrious career. At the time, it was one of most anticipated fights of the year. (I’d say “fight of the century,” but that had already happened.)

Why? Inoki was a wrestler, not a boxer.

And the notion of the most famous athlete in the world — less than a year removed from the “Thrilla in Manila” — shuffling around the ring with a celebrated mixed martial artist was an enticing one. It was also proof that above all else, money talks: Ali was paid $6 million for the event. Adjusted for inflation, that would’ve been about $26 million today.

The reason few remember it is because that fight — which ended in a draw — is considered by most boxing fans to be one of the most embarrassing moments in Ali’s career.

So yes, before there was Mayweather-McGregor, there was Ali. Perhaps the only difference (admittedly, it’s a big one): Ali was a political and social activist who leveraged events around the globe — like the Inoki fight — to get his message out.

Beyond that, he actually shared a lot of similarities with Mayweather and McGregor. His celebrity came from what he did outside the ring as much as in it: The manipulation of the media. The trash-talking. The lyrical showboating.

A man doesn’t proclaim he’s “the greatest of all time” for having a cameo on Diff’rent Stokes.

Whether Ali is truly the greatest fighter of all time merits no argument. All you gotta do is watch this. The man turned pro in 1960 and went on an absolute tear through the decade before being stripped of his title for refusing to serve in Vietnam. But before his exile from the ring, Ali was undefeated. And you don’t go undefeated for so long by accident. It takes, of course, relentless training, something Ali was not a stranger to. His regiment has been documented before, but the main takeaway is not the details, but the general work ethic.

Which is a very long-winded way of saying: if you aspire to greatness, you must find inspiration from within. No one can train for you, and there is no substitute for blood, sweat or tears. What we can help you do is look the part. Below, we’ve rounded up a kit that’ll help you train like Ali.

As for how you conduct yourself outside the ring, well, that’s on you.

Reigning Champ Full Zip Hoodie ($155); Olivers Convoy Tee ($68); Suck UK Punch Bag Laundry Bag ($24); Adidas  Combat Speed 5 Shoe ($85); Hock Design Jump Rope ($200); Everlast Elite Hook & Loop Training Gloves ($129); Todd Snyder Slim Sweatpant ($118)

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