American Karate Champion Once Revealed How Muhammad Ali Inspired Bruce Lee’s Iconic Fight With Chuck Norris

Published 12/22/2022, 3:00 PM EST

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‘Every expert was once a beginner’. People have come across this phrase many times, but there are few examples they could relate to. However, one of the best examples is Bruce Lee, who not only adopted this philosophy but also built a path that quite a few now follow. The eagerness of Bruce Lee didn’t limit himself to martial arts. A few other athletes’ techniques inspired him to do a fight scene with another Hollywood Icon.

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Matthew Polly wrote the biography of Bruce Lee, “Bruce Lee: A Life By Matthew Polly”. In the discussion of Lee’s training regimen, Matthew Polly emphasizes how the strategies and abilities used in other sports enable him to improve his martial art abilities.

Bruce Lee used Muhammad Ali’s technique in one of his action sequences

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The famous fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the ‘Way of the Dragon’ is still one of the best action sequences. However, very few people know that the preparation of sequences had lots of think tanks and improvisation behind them. The stunt was inspired by Muhammad Ali’s boxing style, despite the scenes featuring just martial arts talents.

The book states that Lee learned some additional techniques from the iconic match between Muhammad Ali and Cleveland Williams in 1966. “Bruce would play the Williams fight over and over on the little-eight millimeter movie projector he had”, said Joe Lewis, Bruce’s student. The champion student added Lee used to observe Ali’s way of punching and moving. 

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“All My Theory of Gentleness Was Gone”: Bruce Lee Was Once Left ‘Completely Perturbed and Unstable’ After Engaging in Combat

Bruce Lee put a lot of emphasis on the lack of mobility during a karate fight and wanted to improve that. “Karate people were using stationary stances”, wrote Matthew. Lee and Norris worked on learning and polishing the new techniques for three days. The emphasis was to bring a sense of realism by shifting from in-ring sporting techniques to combat martial arts. 

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The iconic fight scene was illegally shot 

Both the stars delivered an exceptional performance in the final scene. But the scene had to be shot illegally. Lee shifted the movie project to Rome so that he could record the last fight in the Colosseum. However, filming inside the Colosseum was illegal then. Thus, the production team had to shoot maximum shots inside the amphitheater.

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Despite the chaos and all the last-minute changes, Bruce Lee was confident that the fighting sequences would be the main highlight of the movie. But even he wouldn’t have expected the recognition and love that they received. The fight between Lee-Norris became one of the most iconic action scenes of all time.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Real reason why Bruce Lee had his armpits sweat glands removed

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Written by:

Shivam Sharma

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Shivam Sharma is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, he has previously worked as a writer and an anchor for Navbharat Today, penning down and explaining issues around sports, politics, and international relations. He is an admirer of Virat Kohli for the passion that he brings to the field.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa

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