Oscars to Olympics: 6 Memorable Muhammad Ali Moments on TV

9:38 PM 6/3/2016

by Allison Crist

The boxing legend made numerous television cameos since garnering global attention as a heavyweight champion.

Ali lighting the Olympic torch in 1996.
ScreenShot/Team USA/YouTube

Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight champion of the world and global icon, died Friday night at a hospital in Phoenix. In tribute to the Champ, watch some of the boxing legend's most memorable moments on the little screen below.

  • Interview on Vietnam War Draft

    1967

    Ali was extremely open about his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was so strong in his beliefs, which he explains in the clip above, that it didn’t bother him to be stripped of his heavyweight title after refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army.

  • Michael Parkinson's Greatest Entertainers

    1971

    Michael Parkinson sat down with the boxing legend four times in 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1981. But the '71 appearance stands out because of his commentary on racial inequality.

    “And Miss America was always white," he told the BBC host. "All the beautiful brown women in America, beautiful suntans, beautiful shapes, all types of complexions, but she always was white. And Miss World was always white, and Miss Universe was always white. And then they got some stuff called White House cigars, White Swan soap, King White soap, White Cloud tissue paper, White Rain hair rinse, White Tornado floor wax, everything was white. And the angel fruit cake was the white cake and the devil food cake was the chocolate cake. I said, ‘Momma, why is everything white?’ I always wondered.”

    Watch the clips here.

  • Muhammad Ali and Sylvester Stallone Present at Oscars

    1977

    Boxing enthusiasts couldn't get enough of this dreamteam appearance from Ali and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). The pair made for a humorous bit — and a reminder that Ali loved nothing more than joking around.

  • Bob Hope’s All-Star Comedy Spectacular From Lake Tahoe

    1977

    In an effort to promote the documentary in which he played himself, The Greatest, Ali crashed a skit on Bob Hope’s comedy special. “I’m not gonna let you stand here and destroy the name of me and my profession.” Boxing? “No,” Ali replies, “acting.”

  • The Barbara Walters Special: Muhammad Ali

    1978

    Ali’s sit-down interview with Walters in the '70s gave his fans a peek into his unapologetic personality.

  • Diff'rent Strokes

    1979

    Everyone remembers Arnold saying, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Muhammed Arnold, the champ, that’s me!” This was one of Ali’s rare cameos on a sitcom.

  • Lighting the Olympic Torch

    1996

    Ali lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Atlanta Games is one of the more memorable moments in sports history. No one knew who was going to appear at the Opening Ceremony and when Ali, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1984, emerged for the 100th anniversary honor, it was an inspiration to all watching. 

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