Concern arose this weekend when a report in a British newspaper suggested that Muhammad Ali, gripped by Parkinson's, was not long for this earth.
The source of the health update was Rahman Ali. To those who've followed boxing, it was not incomparable to relying on LaToya Jackson for updates on her more famous, estranged family members.
Other family members soon contacted the media to report that there was no change in the condition of the 71-year-old legend, even releasing a photo of "The Greatest" watching the Super Bowl in Baltimore Ravens gear.
Rahman Ali necessarily toiled in the shadow of his brother. Born Rudolph Clay, he too converted to Islam and boxed professionally, scraping out a 14-3 record before wisely retiring.
With this recent report, we couldn't help think of Rahman's role in one of the strange and wacky "fights" of Muhammad Ali's celebrated career, compiled below:
Cassius Clay vs. The Beatles, 1964
Two brash, young entities, whose massive impact on the culture and the decade were only just beginning to take hold, meet up at the 5th Street Gym in Miami.
The Beatles were just arrived in the United States, in between their momentous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, while Clay was preparing for a heavyweight title challenge against the imposing Sonny Liston, a bout few thought he'd win.
The meeting with the Fab Four almost didn't happen, as the frustrated musicians were made to wait by a tardy Clay. By all accounts unchoreographed, they riffed effortlessly, exchanging verbal barbs, making fists and shadowboxing, and in the most memorable image, John, Paul, George and Ringo fell like dominoes after being "decked" by Ali.
Muhammad Ali vs. Rocky Marciano, 1969
Ali was in limbo and in desperate need of cash after his refusal to be inducted in the U.S. Armed Forces for the Vietnam War led to a protracted legal struggle. A computer simulation pitting every heavyweight champ up to that point led to the idea of a filmed "fight" between the only two who were then undefeated.
Retired for a dozen years, Marciano was in need of some cosmetic changes to his hairline and gut ahead of production, which inolved filming numerous one-minute rounds in July 1969. The undefeated champs got along fine, and fake blood was employed in the production, as no real punches of consequence were landed.
Several endings were filmed, with each man winning depending on where the viewer was located. Just a few weeks later, before post-production was complete, Marciano was killed in an Iowa plane crash a day before he was to turn 46.
Muhammad & Rahman Ali vs. Joe Frazier, 1974
Ali lost to Frazier in the original Fight of the Century in 1971, but three years later it was a crossroads bout, with the winner to be positioned to battle the undefeated champ George Foreman. Wide World of Sports host and frequent Ali foil Howard Cosell had the fighters in to watch a replay of the first bout and promote the rematch.
It degenerated when Frazier mentioned Ali's hospital stay after the first bout. Ali pointed out that Smokin' Joe had actually convalesced for a longer spell. After being called dumb and ignorant by the Louisville Lip, Frazier ripped off his earpiece and stood menacingly before a seated Ali. Rahman Ali came out of the shadows and on stage, pouring fire on gasoline.
"You want in on this, too?" warned Frazier, who was then immediately bear hugged by Ali, resulting in a prolonged wrestling match.
No real damage was done, and Ali won a 12-round decision in the "real" fight to come.
Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki, 1976
Speaking of wrestling … It wasn't the first meeting of boxer and wrestler — Jack Dempsey and Archie Moore had faced grapplers — but Ali in Tokyo against the jaw-jutting Japanese foe he dubbed "the Pelican" was the most famous such matchup until Sly Stallone nicked it wholesale for Rocky Balboa-Thunderlips in Rocky III.
Something called the World Martial Arts Championship was at stake but Inoki wanted no part of punching with Ali, spending most of the 15 rounds on the ground kicking Ali's shins and thighs. Ali cashed a healthy cheque, but there was nothing healthy about the blood clots he developed on his legs.
Weirdly, in late 2012 Inoki went public with his conversion to Islam and a new Muslim name, Muhammad Hussain.
Muhammad Ali vs. Superman, 1978
The latest in a line of celebrity-themed plots involving Superman, from the creative team at DC Comics.
Ali and The Man of Steel battle for the right to save the planet from an all-powerful alien. The animated crowd in attendance includes then president Jimmy Carter, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, the Jacksons, the Osmonds and Alfred E. Newman. After a slow start, Ali's fists leave Superman in a Kryptonite-like stupor.
In a harbinger of what was to come just a couple weeks later in his upset loss in the ring to young Leon Spinks, Ali is detached at an event held to ostensibly promote the comic, which sold for $2.50 US.
"I won't tell you nothing about the [comic]
book," he said in The New York Times. "I'm just tired of the press and I'm tired of people."
The comic was re-issued in a special hardcover edition in 2010.
Clips for this feature were broadcast on BBC, ABC, and the Nerdist Channel.