Bruce Lee Vs Muhammad Ali: Who Would Have Won?

Being a celebrity fighter is a double edged sword. There are down shots: a trip to the bar can mean every whiskey-breathed former college boxer lining up to prove that they could've been a contender, as Andre the Giant frequently found out. When your job description can be summed up with "I try to be the one getting punched less than half the time," your body is going to take some damage. Having a reputation for being able to take a hit didn't end well for Harry Houdini.

But then, there are upsides. With a little luck, a lot of skill, and a solid management team behind you, you can get a shot at a sort of immortality, living forever in the internal Mortal Kombat roster of the curious and the bored. Decades after the death of a high-profile pugilist, people will still be setting up action figure fights in their heads, wondering which punch man can punch other punch men the best.

Today's contestants are the creme de la creme: in the red corner, with a career 56 wins and three acrimonious divorces, we have two-time heavyweight champion of the world Muhammad Ali. In the blue corner, martial arts icon and verifiable Green Hornet BFF Bruce Lee. It's a hypothetical celebrity Pokemon fight for the ages. Who would come out on top?

What really matters is that everyone tries their best

In a mixed martial arts competition, probably Lee. If they were boxing, it might have been more complicated.

By the numbers, Bruce Lee was one of the most remarkable athletes the world has ever seen. As we've pointed out before, he managed to match Ali's punch force while tipping the scales at half of the boxer's body weight. That said, he wasn't much for Queensbury rules. Lee's only recorded boxing match didn't go great for him: he found the gloves constricting and the regulations infuriating, and wound up winning a fight against a teenage boy by decision.

Ali, meanwhile, was damned near untouchable in the ring. With six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles and an Olympic gold medal to his name before he turned 20, he remains to many the genuine Greatest Of All Time. The Economist reports that by the end of his career, Ali had taken over 200,000 punches. He beat Joe Frazier on purpose, Sonny Liston on accident, and Superman on panel. The guy was a specimen.

The short version: gloves on, Ali, gloves off, Lee.