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Muhammad Ali Enterprises sues Fox over use of fighter's image in Super Bowl telecast

Muhammad Ali Enterprises sues Fox over use of fighter's image in Super Bowl telecast
Muhammad Ali connects with a right in a title fight against Joe Frazier in Manila on Oct. 1, 1975. (Mitsunori Chigita / Associated Press)

The company that owns the posthumous image of Muhammad Ali has filed a $30-million lawsuit against Fox Broadcasting Co., claiming the legendary fighter's likeness was improperly used during its February telecast of Super Bowl LI.

The suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Illinois said the TV network did not request or receive permission to use Ali's image in a three-minute video that aired before the start of the game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

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Muhammad Ali Enterprises is the endorsement company that owns and manages the intellectual-property rights of the boxer, who died in 2016.

The suit claims that the video appeared to go beyond being a tribute to Ali, as it juxtaposed images of the boxer with those of major NFL figures such as Joe Namath, Tom Landry, John Elway, Vince Lombardi and Peyton Manning, and implied that the boxer had endorsed the league.

"The video uses Ali to define greatness and ultimately to compare the NFL legends to Ali and thus to define them and the Super Bowl as 'greatness' too," according to the complaint. "The Greatest" is one of the many monikers Ali had during his career.

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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