'Let's Get Ready to Rumble' Worth $400M

Muhammad Ali Inspired the Catchphrase 'Let's Get Ready to Rumble'

Berman: So you went into this thinking, 'I need to come up with some saying.' You went in saying, 'I've gotta come up with something to get them going?'"

Buffer: Well, I wanted something, and I tried, you know, 'Man your battle stations' and 'Fasten your seat belts.' And it was, like, just crickets out there, you know, nothing was happening. And I came up with -- Muhammad Ali, I'll do my Muhammad Ali impersonation now. [Imitating Ali:] 'I'm so pretty. I'm ready to rumble.' And he used to have this line, 'Rumble, young man, rumble.' So, it was there. It was in boxing. And Sal Marchiano, great sports announcer from New York, used to say on the ESPN fights, 'Well, we're ready to rumble from Resorts International.' And so I kinda fine-tuned everything to, 'Let's get ready to rumble.' And that's what you hear today.

Berman: Was there a moment where you thought, 'Man, I have something here.'

Buffer: Yeah, you know, and I, of course, I say it a lot differently than I did 20 some years ago.

Berman: How'd you say it in the beginning?

Buffer: I would just say '12 rounds of boxing in the heavyweight division, let's get ready to rumble. Introducing first...' and I would just like roll through it, 'cause I was almost like afraid that I shouldn't be too dramatic with it, like, I didn't want to bring attention to myself. And it was kind of like, just rolling out there, and -- a great friend, he's passed away, Jody Berry, was a singer in show business and a great Hollywood guy, and he said, 'You know, when you say, 'Let's get ready to rumble,' shut up. I'm like, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'Because they're dying to hear you say it, and they want to go crazy.' So, I took a chance and said it and paused, and it started to work a lot better.

Berman: When did you trademark it?

Buffer: I realized that it was popping up everywhere, like for editorial use and headlines, and, you know, for a big fight. It would say, it's time to rumble, ready to rumble. And so, occasionally, a car dealer, a local car dealer would say 'let's get ready to rumble' for knockout deals. And they were, like, using my line. And I checked with attorneys and found out that this could be considered what they call intellectual property.

Berman: And what does that mean for you, exactly?

Buffer: It means I own the phrase, and I have it in the, you know, a half-dozen different countries, and it's something that's with licensing. I've really parleyed into a great way to make a living outside of the ring.

Berman: So, if I say it, look, I'm just saying it right now, 'let's get ready to rumble,' do I owe you money?

Buffer: Not necessarily, because it's in editorial use right now. You're speaking about it. If you were to make a commercial, or do a magazine ad that says 'let's get ready to rumble' to draw attention to your product, you've stolen my property.

For Buffer, a Cancer Diagnosis a Year Ago: Two Tumors in the Throat

Berman: And then what happens?

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