For little boys growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Muhammad Ali was more than a world boxing champion. He was a personality of almost unimaginable charisma. At recess and after school, kids would shuffle their feet in imitation of the champ, put up their dukes and joyously chant to one another, “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see!”
So it’s funny to watch in this video as the flamboyant Ali, at the peak of his fame, pays a surprise visit to kids at an elementary school in New York. The year is 1974. Ali has recently won his re-match with Joe Frazier and is preparing for his much-hyped “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman. He plays a joke on a series of unsuspecting students at P.S. 41, in Greenwich Village, for the TV show Candid Camera. Disguised as a janitor, Ali sneaks into the room just as the kids are explaining what they would say if they ever met Muhammed Ali. When they realize the champ is standing right next to them, their reactions are priceless.