The Unforgettable Clash: Muhammad Ali’s Surprising foray into Wrestling with Gorilla Monsoon


Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer to have ever graced the planet.

But against pro wrestler Gorilla Monsoon, he arguably met his match.

Back in 1976, Ali was preparing to face Japanese MMA fighter Antonio Inoki.

Ali, a longtime pro wrestling fan, famously turned up to a WWF show in Philadelphia Arena on June 1, where Monsoon – real name Robert Marella – was due to wrestle Mikel Scicluna.

At the time, he was coming off a knockout victory over Richard Dunn a month prior on May 4.



Perhaps emboldened by his recent success, Ali jumped into the ring to confront Monsoon.

However Monsoon, who was considerably bigger than Ali, had other ideas.

Ali removed his shirt and started dancing around Monsoon while throwing jabs in an attempt to wind him up to which he responded by picking him up in his Airplane Spin before slamming him to the mat.

What did Bruce Prichard say about Muhammad Ali vs Gorilla Monsoon?

WWE executive Bruce Prichard revealed that Ali received no prior warning of the move before it happened on an episode of his podcast ‘Something to Wrestle’ in 2019.

He told the podcast: “Ali grew up as a wrestling fan. He got his wrap from Gorgeous George back in the ’50s. He loved Bruno and those guys from that era.


“Monsoon to him was like a larger than life character. A boxer, even Mike Tyson, they were afraid of the wrestler because they knew if the wrestler ever got you down you were dead. As good as you are with your hands if that wrestler gets you down and ties you up in a knot there’s not much you can do, especially with boxing gloves on.


“What they had to do was they had to bring Ali into these different territories and do something with their local guy. In Minneapolis, they did it with Buddy Wolfe, in New York, they did it with Gorilla Monsoon. Monsoon’s whole thing is that you’re not going to embarrass me.

“Just to let Ali know that he can take him anytime he wanted to, Monsoon went and got him and did the airplane spin. Bundini Brown’s on the outside of the ring, Ali’s manager, they didn’t know, so they’re all upset. Not everybody was smartened up.

“Monsoon does this airplane spin, drops Ali and Ali’s dizzy, and it was picked up by everybody. I remember seeing it in Houston as a kid.”


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