I Am The Greatest: The Adventures Of Muhammad Ali (NBC 1977)

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…”

He had perhaps the most recognizable face in the entire world. In his prime, he was blessed with unparalleled athletic prowess, legendary courage, and a personality and charisma so vibrant it was almost a separate living entity. He brought a heretofore unheard of style and grace to the brutal sport of boxing. When confronted with these realities in 1977, the National Broadcasting Company had really only one choice…

“Put this man in a cartoon!”

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali changed his name after converting to Islam in 1964. By that time, he was the heavyweight champion of the world, winning the title from Sonny Liston. After a few years of turmoil outside the ring—brought on when Ali declared himself a conscientious objector and refused to fight in Vietnam—the champ won back his title belt by knocking out George Foreman in 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” fought in Zaire. Ali held the title for the next four years, defending it ten times. In the midst of that reign, in 1977, NBC premiered I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.

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Ali lent his vocal talents to the series, which featured him as a modern day Robin Hood, fighting for the underpriveleged and solving the occasional mystery. He was accompanied by his niece Nicky and his nephew Damon, as well as—in what may have been a cartoon first—his real-life public relations man, Frank Bannister (who also provided his own voice).

Somehow, the larger-than-life Ali didn’t translate well to animated form in the minds of most viewers. The show bounced around to several timeslots, and was cancelled after only one season.

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production details
USA / NBC – Farmhouse Films – Fred Calvert Productions / x20 minute episodes / Broadcast 10 September 1977 – 2 September 1978

voice cast
Muhammad Ali as Himself
Frank Bannister as Himself
Patrice Carmichael as Nicky
Casey Carmichael as Damon

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.