Elvis And Ali: When The Greatest Met The King

From the Jack magazine archive: When Elvis and Ali met for the first time in 1974, there was only one place it could be; Viva Las Vegas.
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Ferdie Pacheco (Ali's fight doctor): "I was there the time Elvis presented Ali with the robe. It was in Vegas in '74 and it was really something to see. They really didn't know what to do with each other. Obviously Elvis was enthralled to be in Ali's presence, but so was Ali, he loved Elvis. He wasn't really into the music, but he said, 'Boy, that guy can dance. What an entertainer.' Elvis came in to Ali's hotel room with the robe, 'The People's Champ' written on the back in jewels. Ali sees Elvis coming in and says, 'Hey, that's Elvis, man. He looks pretty good!' And both of them looked at each other like good-looking women would look at each other to appraise how they look.

At that time, Ali was at the height of his good looks, and this was Elvis before he got fat. So this was probably the best-looking black guy and the best-looking white guy on the planet in that room, and they were looking at each other like roosters. 'You look good, Ali.' 'Yeah, you're looking good, Elvis'. So here they are and they really wanted to be friends with each other, but they didn't know what to do. They didn't know how to connect.

You know, Elvis is surrounded by these white guys, these rednecks from Memphis, and Ali is hanging out with these black guys from the Nation of Islam. They were living in two different worlds. They respected each other and the love was there, but they couldn't quite get as close as they would have liked. But the robe Elvis presented to Ali that night was the only one he ever kept. I think they met once or twice after that night.

One time Elvis went up to see Ali at his training camp at Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. I wasn't there but I heard that Ali thought it would be fun to take Elvis down in to the little town near Deer Lake unannounced. As the story goes, they go to this bar. Ali didn't drink, but I think he just wanted to get a kick out of taking Elvis into this bar. Anyway there is a little stage in this place and maybe half a dozen people in there having a drink.

They probably recognised Ali because he liked to go down to the town and have fun with people, but they didn't recognise Elvis. There was a guy singing on stage and Ali managed to persuade Elvis to go up there and sing a song. Well, of course as soon as Elvis started singing everybody in the place knew who it was. Ali was cracking up, you know - Elvis was singing for this bunch of barflies in this small town. I think they escaped through the back door before anybody in the bar could raise the alarm and have the whole town in there."

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