GamingZion has closely examined the greatest boxer of all time’s career, and broken down some of Muhammad Ali’s career earnings.
The world is still mourning the loss of one of the greatest sporting icons the world has ever known. His death sent shock waves across the planet, and has inspired many people to relive some of Ali’s greatest career moments.
For years, many have wondered, “how much money did Muhammad Ali make?” We at GamingZion have examined some of his biggest bouts to determine some of Muhammad Ali’s career earnings.
Ali vs Henry Cooper 2: $448,186
Muhammad Ali knew to respect the Englishman Henry Cooper in their rematch. In the first fight, Cooper was able to hit Ali repeatedly on the break, and at the end of the 4th round, dropped Ali with a hellacious left hook. Ali managed to recover from the shot and TKO’d Cooper shortly after, but the memory of that punch remained in his memory.
In the second fight, Muhammad wrapped up the Englishman every time they got close, preventing him from landing the break shots that he found success with before. Ali was much more cautious, and used his movement to land jabs at distance. Eventually, the scar tissue around Cooper’s eyes gave way, and the fight was stopped with a 6th round TKO. This fight with Cooper was one of the first significant paydays of Ali’s career, and was a substantial part of Muhammad Ali’s career earnings.
Ali vs. Liston 1: $464,595
By the time Ali vs Liston entered the ring for their first fight, then Cassius Clay was a staggering 7-1 underdog. Few gave him a chance against the much larger, more experienced, and more powerful Liston. For weeks before the bout took place Ali taunted Liston. “After the fight, I’m gonna build myself a pretty home and use him as a bearskin rug. Liston even smells like a bear. I’m gonna give him to the local zoo after I whup him.” Said Ali.
When the fight began, Liston charged at Ali, obviously angry from the brash contenders repeated insults. Ali’s speed advantage was quickly apparent, as Liston could not find his range and was hit numerous times with a hard jab. Liston found the most success in round two, pushing Ali into the ropes and landing a few hard body shots, but by the third round Ali had taken over.
The end of the game
Perhaps the most dangerous point in the fight for Ali was during the 4th and 5th rounds, when Ali became partially blinded due to a substance on Liston’s gloves. Many speculate this was done intentionally by Liston, but no proof has been presented. Ali battered Liston in the 6th, and Liston refused to come out for the 7th. “I’m the greatest!” and “I shook up the world.” Ali yelled, long before the world knew this to be true. Before this fight, Muhammad Ali’s career earnings were relatively low. This fight helped to change that.
Ali vs. Frazier 1: $2,500,000
After three years of boxing inactivity due to his refusal to be inducted into the US Armed Forces, Ali was given a shot at the Heavyweight championship against Joe Frazier. Many questions lingered over whether the speed Ali showed prior to his layoff would still be present. Frazier had been dominant in his run as a champion, with a 26-0 record and numerous KO’s.
It was deemed the “fight of the century,” and took place at Madison Square Garden in NYC. A who’s who of celebrities were in attendance, and the atmosphere was palpable. Ali started off great, winning the first three rounds with his quick movement and lightning-fast jabs. At the end of the 3rd, however, Frazier landed a monstrous hook on Ali and the fight began to change tides.
Frazier was able to push Ali into the ropes during rounds four and five, punishing the challenger with hard body shots and hooks to the head. Ali was visibly tired by round six, but managed to win rounds eight and nine. Frazier was well ahead by the 15th round, when he landed a massive left hook that floored Ali. With his jaw swollen and feet barely underneath him, Ali defended himself for the majority of the last round and lost the fight by unanimous decision.
Ali vs. Foreman: $5,450,000
The Rumble in the Jungle was historical for many reasons. It was the first time a major boxing event was held in Africa, the first time George Foreman was defeated, and one of Don King’s first ventures as a boxing promoter.
This fight was a classic match between a power puncher and a speed fighter. Foreman was known for his in-human power, famously folding a heavy bag with punches in a training video. At the time of the fight, Foreman was 40-0 with 37 KO’s. Ali was 44-2, with 31 KO’s. At the time, no online sportsbooks in the US existed, but if it’s safe to assume most would had have put Ali as a big underdog.
When the fight began, Ali went against what everyone had assumed he would do. Instead of using quick movement and speed, Ali leaned against the rope and allowed Foreman to punch him. Ali covered up well with his gloves, not allowing Foreman to connect with many solid punches to his head. This strategy (which Ali later dubbed the rope-a-dope) proved to be extremely effective. Foreman eventually tired himself out and Ali capitalized by landing a KO punch on Foreman in the 8th round.
Ali vs. Frazier 3: $6,000,000
If the Rumble in the Jungle was the most historic boxing match in history, the Thrilla in Manila was the most brutal. After beating George Foreman for the heavyweight title, Ali and Frazier were eventually set to collide in a third match. They both had wins over each other, and the public was dying to see the rubber match.
The fight took place in Manila, the Philippines. It was estimated at the time of the fight the temperature was over 120 degrees. Ali continuously taunted Frazier in the buildup to the fight, even yelling, “You don’t have it, Joe, you don’t have it! I’m going to put you away!” While the Referee was telling them instructions.
How Ali beat Frazier
Ali used his quick speed early, stinging Frazier with jabs and avoiding much of his offense. During the 3rd round, Ali began using the rope-a-dope strategy that he implemented during the Foreman fight. This worked well for Frazier, who needed to get close to Ali in order to land punches. Frazier had his best moments in rounds five and six, landing several hard hooks that would have dropped most men. Ali never touched the ground.
Rounds 7 and 8 saw Ali begin transitioning away from the rope-a-dope strategy, and sting Frazier with several clean punches. After the 9th, Ali told his trainer, “man, this is the closest I’ve ever been to dying.” By the 13th round, Frazier was essentially blind. Both of his eyes were swollen almost shut, and fatigue was taking its toll on both fighters. In the 14th, Ali knocked out Frazier’s mouthpiece. Seeing this as an opportunity to attack, he bombarded Joe with punch after punch until the bell rang. Frazier’s corner had seen enough after that, and stopped the fight before the 15th round began.
Muhammad Ali’s actual earnings – a summary
Today, it is estimated that Ali made a total of $80 million throughout his lifetime. In 2006, Muhammad sold the rights to his name and image for $50 million. Ali kept 20% of the revenue, equating to about $7 million annually.
Ali was legendary for so many reasons. He changed culture, and inspired millions around the world. Muhammad Ali’s career earnings set records for years to come, and for good reason. The man was unlike anyone else before him, and anyone will be after. No one will come close to matching his greatness, and if they do they better wake up and apologize.
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