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Jim Brown-Muhammad Ali bout nearly happened in 1960s

  • By NFL.com
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Associated Press
Jim Brown (left) and Muhammad Ali were friends who nearly became foes in the ring.

Jim Brown leapt headlong into acting shortly after retiring from football in 1965. But the Hall of Fame running back might have tried a much more dangerous line of work if not for Muhammad Ali.

Bob Arum, the legendary boxing promoter, explained the story to SI.com's Chris Mannix.

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Brown introduced Arum to Ali, then asked him a favor: Set up a bout between the ex-football player and the heavyweight champ. Arum relayed Brown's message to Ali, who asked for a meeting.

"So I went to talk to Ali," Arum told Mannix. "He says, 'Jim wants to do what? Bring him here.' So I took him to Hyde Park in London, where Ali used to run. Ali said, 'Jimmy, here's what we're going to do: You hit me as hard as you can.' So Brown starts swinging and swinging, and he can't hit him. He's swinging wildly and not even coming close. This goes on for, like, 30 seconds.

"Then Ali hits him with this quick one-two to his face. Jimmy just stops and says, 'OK, I get the point.' "

Brown's boxing career was over before it began. The sweet science's loss was Hollywood's gain, as Brown went on to star in such films as "The Dirty Dozen," "The Running Man" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" and TV shows such as "CHiPs" and "T.J. Hooker," proving it's better to be in a hit than to take one from "The Greatest of All Time."

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