Muhammad Ali, Barred From Boxing, Stars In Broadway Musical To Make Money (Did You Know?)

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 2, 2012 2:16 PM
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Did you know that... In 1969, since being barred from boxing, and in debt (legal fees, family support), to earn money, Muhammad Ali hit the college lecture circuit, and even starred in the Broadway musical titled Buck White?

That's him in the photo above, at the center.

The show, written and directed by Oscar Brown Jr (one of the first Broadway productions by a black man), apparently wasn't much of a success since it ran for just seven performances.

The Broadway production was a musical adaptation of Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White, and centered on a militant black lecturer who addresses a meeting organized by a black political group.

I couldn't find footage from the actual Broadway production (although to see Ali singing away on stage in character, I'd suggest you watch the documentary A.K.A. Cassius Clay by Jim Jacobs, which is streaming on Netflix right now); but in the clip below, watch Ali and the Broadway musical's cast perform the number We Came in Chains on the Ed Sullivan Show that same year; and see the poster for the production underneath:

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  • patricia A murray | April 15, 2014 9:27 AMReply

    The full name of the play is Big Time Buck White. I had heard of the play but never got the chance to see it. The play had been performed as a student production at Talladega College (in Alabama) the year before I arrived there, and the star of the play was called "Big Time" from then on.

  • urbanauteur | March 5, 2012 5:55 PMReply

    TAMBAY, baby u got me with this one, it flew totally under my radar, wow, want a revealation or should i say dark unicorn? this was during ALI's -aint no vietcong call me a nigga- fruit,granade & macadamian nut dazed..i likes;-)

  • BluTopaz | March 3, 2012 4:46 PMReply

    Well go'head Mr. Ali.

    And Mr. Sullivan too, he had some amazing acts on his show in a tumultious era.

  • wordblaze | March 2, 2012 7:57 PMReply

    If I didn't see this on S&A with my own eyes...I wouldn't believe it. Mind. Blown.

    Ali had some acting chops and is singing on key like a muh! He truly was a renaissance
    man. A hero...on so many fronts. wow. Thanks sooo much for sharing. Going to Netflix
    RIGHT NOW!!!

  • AI | March 2, 2012 2:38 PMReply


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