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3 Things Rush Limbaugh and Muhammad Ali Have in Common

By MisterG

ali-and-liston-croppedSome may be incensed that Muhammad Ali has been mentioned in the same sentence as Rush Limbaugh. Or vice-versa. There is a perfectly logical basis for this title. And, you will agree once you have read the whole post.

1. They Were the Best of Their Time
Muhammad Ali was arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time; certainly of his era. Not only did he face and decisively defeat the reigning world champion, Sonny Liston; he faced, and defeated, all challengers before being stripped of his title when he refused to join the military during the Vietnam War.

Likewise, Rush Limbaugh, without a doubt, is the most listened-to radio talk show host of all time. There is no dispute about that. For over 20 years he has sat atop the world of American talk radio, “firmly ensconced in the prestigious EIB chair,” as he likes to boast. He has taken on all challengers and remains the most listened-to radio talk show host in America.

2. Their Careers Were Aided by Hate As Much as By Love
Hatred fueled much of Muhammad Ali’s popularity.
At the height of his popularity Ali fought before millions on television with thousands more watching at ringside. His was one of the most recognized faces on the planet.
And, still is.
But, not everyone watching was cheering for him.

Many in the crowd hated Ali. Passionately.
Some who watched Ali box hoped to see history live, or as near to it as they could afford. They wanted to see the “loudmouth” boxer brought down a notch–to see the “Louisville Lip” finally get what he deserved.

They wanted to see Muhammad Ali lose.
And, they wanted to be there when it happened.

Muhammad Ali was aware that not everyone in the crowds wanted to see him win. He turned their hate to his advantage.
What he wanted most was for them to pay to see him fight. And they did.

You see, not only was Ali a consumate fighter. He was also a brilliant self-promoter par excellence, with few equals in the world.

One person who is also a brilliant self-promoter and equal to Muhammad Ali is political commentator Rush Limbaugh.
While being no match for Ali physically, Limbaugh does compare favorably to Ali in the using-hatred-to-make-a-profit area.

Hatred fuels much of Rush Limbaugh’s popularity also.

  • Rush Limbaugh is at the height of his popularity right now. Indeed, like Ali, his talent is rare.
  • His audience is large.
  • Not everyone who listens to his show shares his beliefs. And, he knows it.
  • His main concern, again like Ali, is to get people inside the tent.

Many people listen to Rush Limbaugh because they disagree with what he says. Yet, they listen to hear firsthand the things he says. No doubt, many yell at their radios in response to some statement Rush just made that they know is inaccurate.

Rush is aware of this anger against him. In Salon’s April 1, 2009 article titled “Rusty and Me,” penned by Limbaugh’s cousin, Julie Limbaugh, Rush counts on hatred to spark his financial success. According to Julie Limbaugh:

Rush once told me, “The only way to make millions is for half the nation to hate you.” He told me this at his mom’s funeral when I was 13, and I think the reason he was talking business was because he was trying not to look so sad. It’s funny how the subject of half the nation hating him could effectively lighten his mood. I wanted to say, “But I don’t want half the nation to hate you.”

3. All Things Must Come to An End
Nobody remains champ forever. Muhammad Ali’s reign as the heavyweight champion of the world eventually came to an end. Like all those before him: John L. Sullivan, Jack Johnson, James J. Jeffries, Jess Willard, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, and Rocky Marciano–to name a few–and those who followed him, no one remains champion forever. Eventually, either the combined effect of landed blows, the gradual decline in physical prowess, some upstart challenger or Father Time will humble the greatest of champions.

Some championships end in voluntary resignation of the crown. But, few know when to give it up.

Muhammad Ali’s time has already come.

One day Rush Limbaugh will no longer be the top radio talk show host. His reign will, too, come to an end. Who his eventual succesor will be is not clear at this time. Some say Sean Hannity is the likely replacement for Rush.

Regardless, Rush will not be around forever. Perhaps he is grooming someone to take his place. Perhaps not.


  • Both were the greatest of their time.
  • Both their careers were aided by hatred as much as by love.
  • Both will eventually be followed by someone greater.

Both of these great men will one day pass from center stage due to age, wear-and-tear, or decline in ability and/or popularity. Simply put: they will no longer be at the pinnacle of their profession.
One already has moved on. How much longer does Rush have?

Categories : Current Events

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