The great Muhammad Ali was as famous for his lyrically rhyming recitations and his bold poetic prognostications as he was for his lightning quick fists and nimble, fancy footwork. In my book’s intro I reference a television docudrama that speculated on Ali being potentially the first rapper. ESPN’s “ALI RAP”, released 2008, was based on the book, ALI RAP: Muhammad Ali the First Heavyweight Champion of Rap. Edited and designed by George Lois, published 11-2-06, it contained over 300 rap rhythms, quips, quotes, poems, witticisms, etc from Ali. The docudrama had various celebrities quoting their favorite Ali “raps” or sayings and paying their respects to the champ. Some rappers saying how his rhyming recitations had inspired and influenced their own musical creations. ┬áBut even long before this tribute came about, Ali actually did record an album that could possibly be considered the first rap album. In 1963, prior to the then heavyweight contender becoming the champion, Columbia Records produced a spoken word record on which Ali, then Cassius Clay, performed his rhyming recitations, backed by musical accompaniment, in front of a studio audience. The recited verses had a round ending bell separating each sequence. Entitled “I Am the Greatest,” it was released in 1964. The album also included two songs, sung by Ali, including a version of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” It topped out at #102 on the charts. It could indeed be considered the first rap album.