I Am The Greatest: The Animated Adventures of Muhammad Ali
The first TV Saturday Morning cartoon based on a single real-life athlete(The Harlem Globetrotters debuted seven years earlier as part of CBS' Saturday Morning Schedule that ran from 1970-1973 as an animated cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions),"I Am The Greatest" focused on flamboyant heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali who is one of the greatest influential characters ever in the history of sports,not to mention one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.
At the time this cartoon premiered in 1977,Ali was on top of the world and still held the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Also had a major motion picture based on his autobiography called "The Greatest",that came out in mid-1977 and there was song dedicated to the champ too(who remembers the song "The Greatest Love Of All" sung originally by George Benson?). He was known around the world and was a great positive role model for kids of all ages,since he really connected with youths who basically made a difference in their lives. So,when NBC premiered this cartoon which was produced by Fred Calvert's production company Farmhouse Films and produced 13 episodes for the network that ran from September 10,1977-September 2,1978. The show was mostly seen on Saturday Mornings during NBC's schedule for the 1977-1978 season. Although Muhammad Ali did his own voicework,replete with his weighty statements,and not to mention the fighter's real-life public relations agent Frank Bannister(who also did his own voicework for this series),it would be a stretch to call it even semiautobiographical since this was designed to appeal to kids.
The series had Muhammad Ali in his own adventures and some of them had to deal with unexpected or unexplained mysteries and solving crimes that would happen to Ali and his entourage which consisted of his niece Nicky and nephew Damon(voiced by real-life siblings Patrice and Casey Carmichael)used the typical hackneyed TV cartoon approach(by way of Scooby Doo Where Are You? and Josie And The Pussycats by intersecting Jonny Quest)by having Ali getting the kids outta danger and having saved them in certain situations including one episode where Ali wrestles a crocodile and takes down a ruthless villain whose intent was to sabotage his career in the ring. This was a show that combine weak comedy and jumbled action in some segments. However,after 13 episodes,NBC moved it to the abyss graveyard of Sunday Mornings in repeated episodes where it was never to be heard from again during the summer of 1978.
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