He was the most recognizable name in boxing in the 60's & 70's, such that he crossed over into television and movies, made commercials, and even lent his likeness and voice to a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon. Part athlete, part showman, part ambassador for peace. Add it up, and you had Muhammad Ali.
Wrestlers such as Superstar Billy Graham and Hulk Hogan have cited Ali's ability to communicate in interviews as an inspiration for their personas, and Ali even got into the ring to confront another wrestler, Gorilla Monsoon, in the mid-70's. He fought Japanese legend Antonio Inoki to a draw, and would officiate the first main event at Wrestlemania in 1985.
In the 70's, it seemed as though every time Ali had a fight, he would turn up a week later on ABC's Wide World of Sports to discuss said fight with Howard Cosell. The two would turn up to roast each other on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Ali even guest-starred as himself on Diff'rent Strokes. Everyone still talks about the so-called "phantom" knockout of Sonny Liston more than 50 years after the fight. However, it was that lengthy boxing career that led to Ali contracting Parkinson's disease, which finally claimed him last night at 74.
Following is Ali's appearance on the British version of This Is Your Life, from 1978.
Rest in peace, champ.