Muhammad Ali

Michael Parkinson’s iconic interview with Muhammad Ali goes viral after TV legend’s passing

There were not many like Michael Parkinson and his talents in the TV studio came to the fore whenever he crossed paths with the iconic Muhammad Ali.

The British broadcaster passed away at the age of 88 on Thursday, leaving behind a long and storied career on our television screens.

After making a name for himself in the 1960s, Parkinson soon became a cultural mainstay in the UK and Ireland for the next four decades.

Renny Lister and Michael Parkinson. Pic: Phillip Jackson/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock
Renny Lister and Michael Parkinson. Pic: Phillip Jackson/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

His passing has prompted an outpouring of emotion and reminiscing over his greatest interviews across his BBC and ITV catalogue.

Few guests, however, provided more ample material than arguably the most famous sportsperson of the 20th century: Muhammad Ali.

The former world heavyweight champion boxer – who himself died in 2016 – made a number of visits throughout the years to have a chat with Parkinson.

American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist Muhammad Ali (1942 – 2016) at a press conference presenting his new autobiographical book ‘The Greatest: My Own Story’ held at The Savoy Hotel, London, UK, 10th March 1976. Pic: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One particular clip, shared on Twitter from the BBC archives, has quickly gone viral after the death of the long-serving TV host.

In it, we see Ali and Parkinson cross paths back in 1971 when the American was at the height of his powers in the wake of his first fight with Joe Frazier, dubbed as the ‘Fight of the Century’.

The boxer was only a few years removed from losing his world title after refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War; a campaign that resulted in him being convicted, although that decision was eventually overturned in the US Supreme Court.

The interview is available in full on YouTube and consists of a variety of topics, not limited to Ali treating the audience to a live poetry reading as well as his fear of aeroplanes.

Most importantly, the chat showcases Parkinson’s ability to ask just the right the right questions and, of course, being able to sit back and listen.

His career also saw him welcome the likes of David Beckham and Rod Hull – with puppet Emu – onto his chat shows down through the years.

During the hundreds of episodes of his talk show, he also interviewed stars including David Bowie, John Lennon, and Celine Dion.

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