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Donald Trump nicknames: Muhammad Ali playbook in full effect?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Earlier this week, famed boxing promoter Don King spoke at a Donald Trump rally on behalf the GOP presidential nominee.

What do the 'Dons' have in common?

Aside from being shrewd, successful businessmen, both tycoons are hardcore fight fans who were once heavily involved on the business end of the Sweet Science.

And while King's strong affiliation with boxing is well-known even among the sport's staunchest critics, not many are aware of Donald Trump's close ties to the sport. In fact, Trump was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame last year.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Atlantic City was a hotbed for big-time boxing, thanks to Mr. Trump. He hosted some of the biggest boxing events ever, attracting international media and the 'creme de la creme' of Hollywood, including celebrities like Don Johnson, Barbara Streisand, Jack Nicholson, Kirk Douglas, Sean Penn and Madonna.

Trump is no longer a player in boxing but still attends the big fights on occasion because he can't help himself. He loves boxing.

Question: Is Trump, as a presidential candidate, using any unorthodox tactics he learned as a fan of and investor in boxing?

Nicknames anyone?

Unlike anything we've seen in presidential politics, Trump gives his opponents wacky nicknames that, for whatever reason, seem to resonate with the public. But Trump wasn't the first to poke fun at his foes via comical nicknames.

Only one other high-profile person has been able to do that with widespread success... The legendary Muhammad Ali.

Ali's monikers for his opponents during the 1960s and 70s were an instant hit with the public and undoubtedly contributed to his fame. 

The self-proclaimed 'Greatest' understood the impact of labels and nicknames and used the media to build his brand as a fighter - and entertainer.

He used the media to do what?

Seem familiar?

Ali's cute but sometimes offensive nicknames were the stuff of legend back in the day.

  • Sonny Liston was the 'The Big Ugly Bear" (Liston had a snarl that would scare ghosts)
  • Floyd Patterson "The Rabbit" (He hopped about the ring like a rabbit)
  • George Chuvalo "Washer Women" (The hair... The hair... He looked like a tired washer woman when he fought)
  • Joe Frazier "The Gorilla" (I'm not touching that one)
  • Ernie Terrell "Uncle Tom" (I'm not touching that one either)
  • Buster Mathis Sr. "The dancing Hippo" (Mathis was chubby. He was the fat guy who was really good)
  • George Foreman "The Mummy" (George had no spring in his step, often resembling a dead man walking)
  • Earnie Shavers "The Acorn", (As bald a light bulb)
  • Leon Spinks "Dracula", (Had a major gap in his teeth... And the ones he had left looked pretty long)
  • Larry Holmes "Peanut" (His head looked like a peanut; Thank goodness he doesn't keep his hair so short anymore)

One couldn't help but marvel at Muhammad Ali's creativity. Who would have thought... A heavyweight boxer who poked childish fun at his opponents?

Now let's fast forward to 2016. For the first time ever, a major presidential candidate creates silly nicknames for a bunch of his opponents and critics and his popularity grows like Ali's thanks to Trump's ability to get the media to report and regurgitate his silly quips.

trump twitter

"So, I’m self-funding. All of this is mine. When I fly in, it’s on my dime, right, it’s on mine. And what does that mean?"

"That means I’m not controlled by the special interests, by the lobbyists. They control crooked Hillary and they control lyin' Ted Cruz, right?,” Trump said in New York in April.

From “Little Marco” to “Crooked Hillary” and everyone in between, here’s a look at Trump’s top pet names:

  • Low Energy Jeb (Jeb Bush)
  • Lyin' Ted (Ted Cruz)
  • Little Marco (Marco Rubio) ... later clarified by Trump as Liddle Marco
  • Lightweight Choker (Marco Rubio)
  • Truly Weird (Rand Paul)
  • Psychopath (Ben Carson)
  • 1 for 38 Kasich (John Kasich won 1 of 38 states in the Republican presidential primaries)
  • Crooked Hillary and Lyin' Hillary (Hillary Clinton)
  • Crazy Bernie (Bernie Sanders)
  • Goofy and Goofus (Elizabeth Warren)
  • Corrupt Kaine (Tim Kaine)

Donald Trump claims he has a special "instinct" for nicknames but was naming his opponents really his idea or is the GOP nominee and hardcore boxing fan taking a page from Muhammad Ali?


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