I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Michael Masser & Mandrill -- Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant)

Perhaps there aren't too many people who read this blog and were around back in the 1970s to remember this bizarre sports event. A few excerpts and hearsay are all I have for memories but on June 26 1976, there was a showdown between the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and professional Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki (アントニオ猪木). I have no idea who came up with this publicity stunt and according to Wikipedia, Ali ended up with damaged legs and blood clots but apparently it may have predicted the future arrival of mixed martial arts.

Ali, of course, became a world figure while Inoki gained his fame in Japan for the most part although there were those few scenes in "The Bad News Bears Go To Japan". Since his wrestling days, he has become a presence on the variety show circuit and various sports events. The huge larger-than-life figure with the lantern jaw has a number of catchphrases including a screamed "Genki desu ka?!"(元気ですか!...HOW ARE YOU?!) He even served two terms in the House of Councillors into the 1990s.

He even had his own theme song with the appropriately hyperbolic title. "Honoo no Fighter ~ INOKI BOM-BA-YE"(炎のファイター 〜INOKI BOM-BA-YE〜....Fighter of Passion), a brassy disco march which always accompanied the man whenever he entered a stage, be it the ring or the studio.

The thing that I hadn't known is that Inoki's theme song wasn't even an original. It was actually adopted from a song that had been created for his one-time opponent, Ali. Yup, American songwriter Michael Masser and funk band Mandrill were responsible for creating "Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant)" as one of the songs on the soundtrack for the 1977 film "The Greatest" starring The Greatest himself. I'm not quite sure whether Ali ever found out about that.

The biggest surprise for me was that there was one other song on that soundtrack. "The Greatest Love Of All" was one of Whitney Houston's greatest hits in the 1980s but I found out that it was a cover of that song on "The Greatest" as performed originally by George Benson. Masser and Linda Creed made this one with Masser creating some of my 80s R&B favourites such as "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" (Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson) and "If You're Ever In My Arms Again" (Bryson).

And here is the song as it was used in the film. Masser passed away in July 2015.


  1. Hi J-C ... yes, I remember it well. Thanks for making me feel old :( BTW, I was also a fan of Mandrill - since you like horns you should definitely get into their stuff ! On this topic, it would be interesting (I don't think you've done it?) to cover some of the 80's idol wrestlers who cut records (e.g. Crush Gals, Jumping Bomb Angels, etc.). A slightly bizarre mix of talents. In a recent online article on unusual "hair bands" they had a photo of a 3-girl group - it was Dump Matsumoto and the Atrocious Alliance. She never recorded to my knowledge (thank you heaven above) but don't tell the British press.

    1. Hello, T-cat. Oh, we've all been around for a while, haven't we? :)

      I haven't presented any of those idol wrestlers but for some reason, I've got a photo of the Crush Gals somewhere on the drive so I figure I'm gonna have to get them onto the blog. In fact, I'm listening to "Honō no Seisho" right now. Actually, they don't sound too bad.


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