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Muhammad Ali: an infinite influencer

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Muhammad Ali shook up the world - an influencer that transcended sport, culture and country. Campaign and Greenlight discuss with leading agency figures how Ali became such an icon

Muhammad Ali disrupted one generation and defined many afterwards. But what is it about Ali that made him so influential – and remain so today, even after his death?

As a boxer, he was a three-time world heavyweight champion, inspiring millions young and old. He defied the odds, overcoming adversity inside the ring then bringing colour, charisma and poetry outside it: "I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw thunder in jail."

One of the most celebrated sportsmen of all time, who fought the best fights of the 20th century, Ali was also a significant political activist. Ali – who changed his name from Cassius Clay ("my slave name") after converting to Islam – refused to join and fight for the US army which lost him his boxing license and saw him go to prison. But Ali returned to boxing and became world champion once more in 1974.

Ali made a profound impact and earned legion of fans worldwide. According to Trevor Robinson, founder at Quiet Storm "he made the whole world stop" when he was on the screen.

Ali’s influence transcends him – he remains as relevant and important today as he was at the height of his boxing career in the 1960s. Why is Ali one the most iconic people to have ever lived? And why should advertisers be paying attention?

In this first instalment of a five-part series on infinite influencers, Campaign talks to advertisers at Grey, TBWA, Mcgarrybowen, Ogilvy and Quiet Storm to uncover what it is about Ali – an individual that touched so many and impacted on culture, politics, religion, sports and fashion –  that makes him so influential and a powerful force for advertisers.

Learn more about Muhammad Ali and how you could associate your brand with his undeniable star power