Bruce Lee & Muhammad Ali. The Story
Two men-two different worlds, and a whole lot of action! When we talk about the master of kung fu, Bruce Lee and the world’s best boxer Muhammad Ali, it’s impossible not to find striking similarities in contrasts. These two men, two enigmas are behind the inspiration of countless young boxers and martial artists from around the globe who aspired to be just like them. But is it really possible to match the panache and skills of these two men?
While both these men may have dazzled in their own fields, one in the boxing ring and the other in the world of kung fu and entertainment, the speculative comparisons about who would win in an epic face-off still rages on.
The Philosophy of Bruce Lee’s Fighting Style
In 1953, at the age of 16, Lee began to hone his passions in mastering the art of kung fu under his sensei, Yip Man. After almost 10 years of rigorous training, Lee moved back to the United States to live with his family and friends in Washington. His first regular job was as a dance inspector.
Lee started teaching martial arts in the US in 1959 and called it Gung Fu that literally translated to Bruce Lee’s kung fu. It was his unique approach to the fighting style named Wing Chun. An invitation from Ed Parker led him to appear in Long Beach International Karate Championship in 1964 where he performed the two finger push up and the highly renowned one inch punch.
In 1969, Lee founded the Jeet Kune Do, his own form of martial arts, influenced heavily by his own philosophy. Abbreviated as JKD, this was a form of Chinese kung fu that does not follow any pattern or fixed movement styles. It was more of a philosophy with thoughts of guidance heavily borrowed from the Wing Chun concept of attacking or interception while one’s opponent was about to attack.
Those who practiced JKD believed in minimal movements with maximum effect and extreme speed. The system made use of different techniques such as punching, kicking, grappling, and tackling, combinations were chained smoothly together using martial art techniques to flow between them.
The Philosophy of Muhammad Ali’s Fighting Style
Muhammad Ali, born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr was an American professional boxer and later a social rights activist. He was born on January 17, 1942, and is widely celebrated as one of the most significant sports figures belonging to the 20th century.
He was born and raised in Lewisville, Kentucky and enrolled in amateur boxing training at the age of 12. His first gold medal came from the light heavyweight division at the age of 18 in the year 1960, Summer Olympics in Rome. After the success, he turned into a fully fledged professional boxer and by the age of 22, consecutively going on to win the WBC, WBA, and lineal heavyweight championships from Sonny Liston.
One of the reasons why Muhammad Ali is looked upon as one of the most influential people in the world is because of his go-getter attitude and excellent showmanship inside of the ring. “Float like a butterfly – sting like a bee” is a term that was used to best describe his personality and fighting style, which was largely influenced by skilled evasion and heavy punches.
Even though many people may argue that there is very little philosophy behind the art of boxing, which is essentially hitting people in the face, many would disagree. The spiritual part differs from one person to another and may or may not be inherent within boxing. However, spiritualism is a by-product of being human that allows them to change and adapt. Boxing is no different as it needs quick thinking and adaptation to survive.
Ali was as charismatic outside the ring as he was in. He converted to Islam as he found the religion to be more in line with his philosophical views and took part in many social activities that preached equality between Blacks and Whites. He was also against the American invasion of Vietnam and made his views very clear.
Bruce Lee vs Muhammad Ali
Martial arts vs Heavyweight Boxing – what fighting style would come out on top? We can but only speculate.
Martial arts is a discipline that is not only practised on a physical level but one must train ones’ consciousness as well to succeed. This ancient art is no longer considered a remnant of all cultures, but effective methods of gaining spiritual growth. Boxing, on the other hand, is a completely different fighting style that is more in the leagues of a brawling style.
When spirituality and raw muscle collide, it’s difficult to judge the outcome without taking into consideration the personal traits of the participants. Of course, judging from a general viewpoint it’s safe to say that there are no cons of both the fighting styles when practised the right way. Therefore, speculating the outcome of a match between Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali becomes even more interesting.
At the peak of their careers, Bruce Lee stood at the height of 5’7” and weighing 145 lbs whereas Ali in his prime stood at 6’3” in height and weighed 210 lbs. As you can understand, Ali has a huge advantage going in this fight as he is not only larger but also heavier in build. Even though Lee is known as the father of mixed martial arts, it’s safe to say that Ali can throw some pretty heavy punches due to his wider stance and tall height.
It’s hard to speculate who would have won, it’s safe to assume that if Ali were of the same height as Bruce Lee, the clear winner would have been the world’s favourite mixed martial artist. Regardless of who would have won in this historic battle, both these men have left their legacy in the world of being icons that are unparalleled and unbeaten. Who do you think would have won?