Muhammad Ali Surprises Kids in a Classic Candid Camera Show, 1974

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.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Muham­mad Ali Plans to Fight in Mars in Lost 1966 Inter­view

Mail­er on the Ali-Fore­man Clas­sic

Woody Allen Box­es a Kan­ga­roo

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