<
>

Muhammad Ali, Under Armour join up

More than 33 years after his last fight, Muhammad Ali is still commanding big dollars.

On Wednesday, Under Armour announced that it has signed a deal to make an extensive line of Ali branded and inspired products by partnering with Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which bought Ali's estate and licensing rights in 2013. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

A limited edition graphic T-shirt goes on sale Wednesday to launch the partnership, with a lifestyle apparel line rolling out next month. In November, Ali's name and image will be on training apparel, footwear and accessories.

"He's an iconic hero from the past and a true innovator," said Glenn Silbert, vice president of men's, outdoors and team sports for Under Armour. "We wondered what Ali would have been like if he had a brand like ours when he was getting started and how great it could have been. That has been the mentality of our design team throughout this process."

Nick Woodhouse, president and chief marketing officer of ABG, said, "Under Armour is irreverent, disruptive, they pivot quickly and they're explosive. Those words also speak to Ali and how he changed the game."

Under Armour has dipped its toe in the water with licensing boxing names through its Roots of Fight line, which recreated retro Bruce Lee, Mike Tyson and Boom Boom Mancini products, but the Ali effort promises to be more than images and slogans.

Nontraditional training is on the rise and Ali was one of the pioneers of working out outside the gym, shunning weights and lifting logs.

"We are truly flattered to have Under Armour pay homage to Muhammad in such a significant way," his wife, Lonnie, said in a statement. "We see in the Under Armour brand a similar spirit and drive that pushed Muhammad to be such a groundbreaking force."

Ali, in years past, had previously been signed by Adidas, which unveiled a retro shoe and had a commercial in which Ali was digitally imposed to create a fight between him and his daughter Laila. But product releases were few and far between.

"Under Armour will treat him differently," Woodhouse said. "We see this more as an endorsement than a licensing deal. He'll be more of an athlete that they think about at 8 a.m. on a Monday than 4:30 [p.m.] on a Friday."

Silbert said the retailers' reaction to Ali, who is still one of the most recognized people in the world, was unanimous.

"We spoke to our partners outside the building who we do business with and asked them how they'd respond to Ali products and the immediate response was, 'Do it, let's go,'" Silbert said.

Ali, who turned 73 last month, has Parkinson's disease, which limits his capacity to physically do much to promote the deal.

Muhammad Ali Enterprises, which is controlled by ABG, owns more than 20 trademarks including his name, "King Of Boxing," "Cassius Clay," "Float Like A Butterfly Sting Like A Bee," "The Greatest Of All Time," "Rumble In The Jungle" and "Thrilla In Manila."