3 Nov: Muhammad Ali and the Hail of Toothbrushes

In a quirky blend of sports, public health, and self-promotion, boxing legend Muhammad Ali took on an unusual opponent at the Washington Monument on 3rd November, 1979: ‘Mr. Tooth Decay’.

The demonstration, promoted by Don King, culminated with Ali knocking down Decay in the sixth round, prompting the crowd of children to celebrate by tossing toothbrushes. It was part of an extended dental health campaign that included Ali’s bizarre LP, “Muhammad Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay,” featuring Frank Sinatra and released in 1976. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca, and Olly dare each other to listen to the album in full; consider how Ali transitioned his public personality away from his stand against the Vietnam War and embrace of Islam; and seek out the even lesser-known sequel, “Dope! The Dope King’s Last Stand”, featuring a guest appearance from no less than President Jimmy Carter…

Further Reading:

• ‘Ali Still The Most in 6 Rounds With Tooth Decay’ (The Washington Post, 1979): https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1979/11/04/ali-still-the-most-in-6-rounds-with-tooth-decay/9700895a-6014-4a38-b2f4-5dfe2ff1cf3f/

• ‘Remembering Muhammad Ali’s Trippy, Anti-Cavity Kids’ Record’ (Rolling Stone, 2016): https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/remembering-muhammad-alis-trippy-anti-cavity-kids-record-64027/

• ‘Ali and His Gang Fight Mr. Tooth Decay’ (St. John’s Fruit And Vegetable Co, 1976):