One of the most famous or infamous fights of the 1970s was the "Wrestler Versus Boxer" match pitting Muhammad Ali against Antonio Inoki. What was supposed to be a huge, worldwide phenomenon (it was broadcast in 34 countries, and on 150 closed-circuit locations in the U.S.) turned into a flop in every sense of the word though the fight was initially supposed to be a work, Ali didn't want to lose, and so the final result was a strictly-ruled affair that saw Inoki laying on the floor, kicking at the legs of the standing Ali for fifteen rounds. Even worse, Ali's legs were badly damaged during by all the kicks, permanently affecting them. The fight was actually promoted by Vince McMahon Junior and Senior. They put Freddie Blassie in Ali's corner, put together a "Showdown at Shea" card that ran in concert with the fight (Ali-Inoki was shown to the Shea Stadium audience on closed-circuit TV), and helped raise national awareness of the bout prior to it. Furthermore, rumors indicate the younger McMahon's involvement may have been even larger some say he was originally scheduled to referee the fight (he ended up doing commentary for the Chuck Wepner-Andre the Giant match at Shea), and even drew up the original plans for the contest when it was still a work.
Scott Fried is a Slammy Award-winning* writer living and working in New York City. He has been following/writing about professional wrestling for many years and is a graduate of Lance Storm's Storm Wrestling Academy. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scottfried.
*Best Crowd of the Year, 2013