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Muhammad Ali’s Strangest Fight

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By Matt Edwards

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was known for floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. But had his reputation been set by the Botch Job at the Budokan (as we’re dubbing it) rather than the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manila, you’d be more likely to describe him as stinging like a sponge while flapping like an irate puffin.

In 1976, nearing the end of his career, Ali signed up to fight Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki. Inoki was a huge figure in Japanese culture and was renowned for suplexes and jumping kicks. The match took place in Tokyo at the Budokan arena on June 26, 1976, and despite being billed as anything goes, it featured a bizarre set of rules more in line with a pro wrestling match.

The legitimacy of the match was, fairly, questioned. Was this a real fight or a choreographed wrestling match?

Well, apparently even the combatants weren’t sure. There were conflicting stories. Some suggest that the fight was to be choreographed, but that Ali hadn’t been informed that he was going to lose and that when he found out that bit of information, he refused to take a fall. Another version of the story has it that Ali and his team hadn’t realized it would be a real fight and backed out upon seeing Inoki in training.

Regardless, the fight would go ahead. The match was set to broadcast in various countries and there were huge amounts of money invested. Ali was said to be earning $6 million for the bout. Thus, it went ahead as a fight, but with a new set of rules more in line with mixed martial arts, such as one which prevented Inoki from throwing Ali or kicking him, unless Inoki had one knee in contact with the canvas.

Have you ever tried kicking someone with one knee on the ground? It’s incredibly difficult, and Inoki spent 15 rounds throwing Ali off of his game by doing just that. Inoki started the fight by attempting a sliding kick on Ali’s legs, and then spent much of the fight kicking at Ali's legs while scooting around the canvas on his back. Ali was unsure of how to mount any offense under these circumstances, and so he didn’t (though ever the entertainer, Ali did continue to taunt his opponent throughout the rounds). Over the course of the match, Ali threw six punches. The fight briefly came to life in the sixth round when Inoki was able to pull Ali down and sit on him, but the referee soon split them apart.

The match was ruled a draw.

The crowd booed. Ali sustained some serious damage to his legs, with two blood clots forming as a result of this match. Inoki’s legend grew in Japan, though his fans blamed Ali’s team for the poor fight, citing the strange rules imposed on Inoki.

Of course, almost every detail surrounding the fight is questionable, given the association with pro wrestling, where maintaining the illusion of the show is of the utmost importance. Not up for debate: that no one would have faked such an odd and boring fight in the name of entertainment.

[h/t The Guardian]

This post originally appeared on our UK site.

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Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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11 Timeless Yogi Berra Quotes
Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The great Yogi Berra—a 10-time World Series champion and three-time MVP—was one of baseball's best catchers, but he's remembered just as much for his wit and wisdom as his Hall of Fame career. Here are some of the quotes attributed to Yogi (who was born on May 12, 1925), even if he didn't always say them first.

1. "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours."

2. "The future ain't what it used to be." (Yogi later clarified, saying, "I just meant that times are different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.")

3. "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

4. "It ain't over 'til it's over."

5. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." (See Quote Investigator)

6. "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." (See Quote Investigator)

7. "We have a good time together, even when we're not together."

8. "It's déjà vu all over again." (See Quote Investigator)

9. "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

10. "I really didn't say everything I said."

11. "Then again, I might have said 'em, but you never know."

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Hate Running But Want to Feel Like a Winner? Try a 0.5K Run
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If you’re a non-runner who feels left out by the surging popularity of 5K and half-marathon races, Boerne, Texas has the race for you. Billed as a “running event for the rest of us,” the Boerne 0.5K is exactly what it sounds like: a very, very short race. The unique event, taking place in a town of 10,000 outside of San Antonio, covers just a little more than a third of a mile. And, as Mashable reports, it includes free beer and doughnuts.

The first annual charity event takes place on May 5, 2018 and is a fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack, a Kentucky-based nonprofit that provides weekend meals to hungry children. Designed as a tongue-in-cheek response to typical 5K races, the extra-short run features a coffee and doughnut hydration station, just in case you get hungry midway through the race, and a free beer both before and after you run. “Join your fellow underachievers for a day (actually more like 10 minutes) of glory, celebration and participation trophies to raise money for a great organization,” the race website trumpets.

For a small fee, you can also get all of the trappings of racing without ever lacing up your shoes. For $50, VIPs can get the same swag the racers get, plus get the luxury of being shuttled the full 546 yards in a VW bus.

Understandably, this year’s roster is already full, but since the event’s organizers know that most people interested in the event aren’t necessarily committed to running, you can still get a T-shirt, participation medal, and bumper sticker for $25—no racing involved—here.

[h/t Mashable]

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