Pairing the Man of Steel with real-life American icons was nothing new by the late '70s. In fact, Superman had already been featured in print with the likes of Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Allen Funt, Don Rickles and John F. Kennedy.
But had he ever gone up against a real-life athlete known for his nearly super-human sparring ability? Not remotely.
Why would he ever need to, you ask, thinking of his exceptional powers and superiority to all earthlings everywhere--even ones who are heavyweight champions of the world? Well, when an alien nation threatens to take over Earth if its greatest champion can't defeat their greatest champion, Superman and Muhammad Ali both step up on Earth's behalf. But, since he's Ali, trash-talking quickly (and rather awesomely) ensues, before both men decide that Ali will train Superman in the finer points of boxing. Superman takes a trip to the Fortress of Solitude to have his powers temporarily deactivated, so that he will only have the advantages of human strength. Ali and Superman spar, but Superman is battered and bloodied by the end of it.
There's plenty to love about this little piece of nostalgia--not least of which is its cover, which doesn't stop at its realistic rendering of Ali, but instead maximizes its wrap-around format by rendering all kinds of celebrities from the late '70s, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Tony Orlando, Ron Palillo and plenty others, sharing close-up seating with Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern and other superheroic mainstays.
The story was written by Dennis O'Neill & Neal Adams, with pencils by Adams and inks by Dick Giordano & Terry Austin. Superman vs. Muhammad Ali All-New Collector's Edition originally retailed for $2.50, which, considering inflation, would today be a whopping $8.50!