Since before his legendary third fight with Frazier, Muhammad Ali had been showing an interest in martial arts outside of boxing, even going so far as to train extensively with Jhoon Rhee, nowadays considered the grandfather of American TKD. It made sense, Ali had done all he could to prove that he was, after all, the greatest of all time in his own sport. Now he looked to explore other styles of fighting, and beyond that, he looked to find out just how well boxing stacked up against these other styles.

And so, Ali arranged for a mixed style match against a prominent Japanese wrestler by the name of Antonio Inoki, who Ali promptly nicknamed the Pelican.