Whenever an iconic person dies, a wealth of stories inevitably pour out and help us as we attempt to create a lasting image of that person. Muhammad Ali, without a doubt, falls into that "iconic" category, so there have been tons of stories about him circulating since his death on Friday. The world is mentally preparing for Ali's funeral in Louisville, Ky. on Friday, but before it takes place, there are going to be a lot of great Ali stories that are told.
Laila Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have told a couple of excellent stories about Ali thus far, but one of our favorites comes to us courtesy of Mass Appeal, which dug up an old Ali tale from the 1970s. The story actually comes from the 1987 book, The Making of Enter the Dragon, and it features Enter the Dragon director Robert Clause talking about what Bruce Lee told him once while the two were filming their 1973 movie. At that time, there were many people who debated about what would happen if Ali crossed paths with Lee. Some people thought Lee would be able to dominate Ali in a fight, while others argued Ali would knock Lee out easily. According to Clause, Lee considered both sides of the argument and even practiced fighting Ali by using a full-length mirror. His conclusion? He probably wouldn't have stood a chance.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
Another time Yeung, aka [Bolo] went to see Bruce at Golden Harvest Studios. Bruce was screening a Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali] documentary. Ali was world heavyweight champion at the time and Bruce saw him as the greatest fighter of them all. The documentary showed Ali in several of his fights. Bruce set up a wide full-length mirror to reflect Ali’s image from the screen. Bruce was looking into the mirror, moving along with Ali.
Bruce’s right hand followed Ali’s right hand, Ali’s left foot followed Bruce’s left foot. Bruce was fighting in Ali’s shoes. “Everybody says I must fight Ali some day.” Bruce said, “I’m studying every move he makes. I’m getting to know how he thinks and moves.” Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali. “Look at my hand,” he said. “That’s a little Chinese hand. He’d kill me."
For the record, Lee was 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, while Ali was 6-foot-3 and more than 200 pounds during their respective heydays. So yeah, Lee was probably right. But more than 40 years later, Lee vs. Ali is still a debate that people love to have.