Skip to navigationSkip to content

The time Muhammad Ali showed a pirouetting Michael Jackson how to “float like a butterfly”

By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Back in the 1970s, the Jackson 5 had their own TV variety show, where they hosted none other than Muhammad Ali, who deployed his trademark rhyming skills.

When Michael Jackson asked the legendary boxer what he planned to do  after retirement, Ali responded:

“If I’m ever out of the ring, and I find myself in a fix, I’ll join you guys, and we’ll become the Jackson 6.”

Then, in an amazing sequence, a pirouetting Michael shadow-boxes with Ali, and asks if he has what it takes to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Ali says: “You’ve got the butterfly part down, Brother Michael, and you sing real sweet for the cycle. But before you can sting people out of their wits, you gotta put on some meat and keep on eating your grits!”

Jackson’s response? “Man, you cold.”

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.