Friday, April 19, 2024

Muhammad Ali joins WWE Hall of Fame: Legendary boxer added to Class of 2024 for induction in Philadelphia

Muhammad Ali will officially join the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2024, WWE announced on Monday. 

The three-time world heavyweight boxing champion is already in numerous halls of fame, most notably as an inaugural member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He will now be recognized for his involvement in pro wrestling. 

After wrestlers like Gorgeous George inspired his public persona, Ali stepped inside the squared circle on June 26, 1976, for an exhibition against Antonio Inoki in Tokyo, Japan. While the bout ended in a 15-round draw, it still managed to bring in more than 32,000 live fans at the Nippon Budokan Arena and another 33,000 viewers via closed-circuit television in the United States.

Nearly a decade later, Ali served as the special guest referee for the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania, in which Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeated “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. In 1995, he’d take part in a sports diplomacy mission in North Korea and was the guest of honor at the Collision in Korea pay-per-view, co-promoted by WCW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

“Ali sadly passed away on June 3rd, 2016, at 74, but his legacy as one of the greatest athletes persists, and his work to modernize and globalize professional wrestling helped seamlessly blend the world of sports and entertainment,” WWE said in a statement.

“Many claim to be great, but only one man is ‘The Greatest,'” WWE chief content officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque wrote on X shortly after the announcement. “Muhammad Ali transcended sport to become a global icon who captivated and impacted the world like no other.”

The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2024 currently consists of Ali, Paul Heyman, Bull Nakano and The U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda). The induction ceremony will take place on April 5 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as part of WrestleMania 40 weekend.

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