Muhammad Ali announced for WWE Hall of Fame

Originally published at Muhammad Ali announced for WWE Hall of Fame

Muhammad Ali is the latest name to join this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class.

Ali’s lifetime as an accomplished boxer and mainstream cultural icon included numerous moments in the professional wrestling world. Ali appeared at the inaugural Wrestlemania, his larger-than-life personality took inspiration from the promo style of wrestlers, and one of his more controversial appearances was a mixed-rules fight against a highly recognizable name in wrestling.

Ali played a part in Wrestlemania 1, serving as the special guest referee for a match that saw Hulk Hogan and Mr. T overcome Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. While Ali remained at ringside for most of the match, he was seen at one point hitting the ring to take swings at Piper and Orndorff.

In 1976, Ali accepted a highly anticipated exhibition fight against legendary wrestler Antonio Inoki. The fight, which attempted to provide a ruleset that combined the catch wrestling style of Inoki and the boxing of Ali to see who was better, ended up not providing a satisfying result. The event ended in a draw after 15 rounds, with the biggest outcome of all being that a large amount of kicks from Inoki caused severe damage to Ali’s legs. The event, while controversial when it happened, has been called an important moment that helped shape the sport of mixed martial arts.

Ali was also notably a “guest of honor” at WCW’s two-day trip to North Korea in 1995.

It has been documented before that Ali’s charismatic talking style was originally inspired by a wrestling promo of Gorgeous George. When at a Las Vegas radio station to talk about a fight, Ali heard George promote an upcoming wrestling match. He heard George brag about how he’s the best, and how badly he’s going to beat up his opponent. Ali later told his coach that George’s radio appearance inspired his talking style, which has become an important part of the boxer’s legacy.

Outside of boxing, Ali is of course known for his political influence, most notably his refusal to accept conscription into the U.S. Army amid the Vietnam War. Ali passed away in 2016 at the age of 74.

WWE has a history of inducting celebrities who had an involvement with professional wrestling during their careers. Snoop Dogg, Mr. T, and Andy Kaufman are some past inductees.

This year’s Hall of Fame class is now up to four entrants. Paul Heyman, Bull Nakano, and The U.S. Express are all expected to be inducted. The ceremony will take place on April 5th following an episode of WWE Smackdown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.