Throughout the years, Muhammad Ali has been involved in so many hypothetical fight scenarios. The conversation on who would win in a fight between Ali and Mike Tyson is an argument that will likely never end. Ali was also a part of the famous simulated fight with Rocky Marciano. The list goes on and on. But what if “The Greatest” took on another famous icon, someone that didn’t actually fight for a living but is still regarded as one of the greatest martial artists of all time? Naturally, we’re talking about Bruce Lee.
As two of the biggest icons of their time and with both being associated with fighting, one in the ring and one on the big screen, the conversation on who wins a dream fight between Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee was a common one back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a conversation that’s still had today. And it was apparently a conversation that Lee himself had with one of his directors. But despite how things came off in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the man born Lee Jun-fan didn’t think he stood a chance against the man formerly known as Cassius Clay.
Ronda Rousey once gave her thoughts on Bruce Lee vs. Muhammad Ali
One of the most famous fighters of this generation once gave her thoughts on the matter of Bruce Lee vs. Muhammad Ali. In a 2015 interview with Maxim, former UFC champ Ronda Rousey said that Lee would be no match for Ali.
“Muhammad Ali would win, because Bruce Lee was an actor and not actually an athlete. Plus Muhammad Ali was way bigger than Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was tiny, and Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight! Even if they were the same size, I’d still go for Muhammad Ali, because he actually had competition experience where Bruce Lee did not.”Ronda Rousey on Bruce Lee vs. Muhammad Ali
Rousey certainly makes a valid point. The size difference between the two was enormous. Bruce Lee was 5’7″ and never weighed more than 145 pounds while Muhammad Ali was 6’3″ and weighed anywhere from 210 to 240 pounds in his fighting days.
The controversial scene from ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’
If you haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood yet, go ahead and skip to the next section. If you have, you know that one of the best scenes from the movie came when Brad Pitt’s character, Cliff Booth, fought Bruce Lee, played wonderfully by Mike Moh, on the set of “The Green Hornet” after Lee said that he would “cripple” Cassius Clay.
The scene was highly controversial as members of Lee’s family were outraged of how he was portrayed in the film, saying he would never act that way. Lee was known to be a very humble man and while the scene was certainly entertaining, it was inaccurate. If for nothing else, the scene was wrong as Muhammad Ali had already changed his name from Cassius Clay before “The Green Hornet” ever started production so Bruce shouldn’t have been using that name anyway.
More so, Bruce Lee certainly didn’t ever think that he could beat Muhammad Ali if the two actually ever fought in real life.
Bruce Lee says that Muhammad Ali would have killed him in a real fight
Many people have said throughout the years that Bruce Lee had a lot of respect for Muhammad Ali. One of those people was the director of Lee’s most famous film, Enter the Dragon, Robert Clouse. In his 1987 book, “The Making of Enter the Dragon,” Clouse says that Lee was once screening an Ali documentary at Golden Harvest Studios in Hong Kong and revealed what he thought would happen if the two ever fought.
“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.'”Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse on Bruce Lee’s thoughts on a fight with Muhammad Ali
And there you have it. One has to wonder if this will come up when the new Bruce Lee documentary airs on ESPN on June 7.