Updated on December 10, 2021
This week’s “minorities in cartoons” entry is “the greatest” himself, Muhammad Ali.
The boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay has made some appearances in cartoons.
The most high profile example might be the famed 1978 comic one-shot “Superman versus Muhammad Ali,” where Ali faced off against the Man of Steel at the behest of aliens to settle who should represent Earth as its champion (long story).
The fight was held, of course, under a red sun (which as long-time Superman fans know, strips Superman of his powers, as he’s only superpowered under a yellow sun like Earth’s).
The Earth-1 Ali also gets to be one of the few to know of Superman’s secret identity by the end of the adventure. The issue was reprinted a few years ago in a deluxe format.
The cover of “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” itself has been parodied a few times over the years, as listed on this blog. (I like the Bugs Bunny vs. Homer Simpson parody cover!) DC’s longtime competitor Marvel also got in their own dig about the crossover, in an issue of “Spider-Man.”
A year before the comic, Ali had appeared in an NBC Saturday morning cartoon called “I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.” Despite lending his own voice to the series, it didn’t prove successful against the competition: on CBS, live-action sci-fi series “Space Academy”; on ABC, the final half-hour of “Scooby’s All-Star Laff-Alympics.”
Some of Ali’s catchphrases have been referenced in cartoons over the years. Pixar’s “Cars” saw Lightning McQueen use the phrase “float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer.”