Muhammad Ali to Jump into the C-Store Ring

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Muhammad Ali to Jump into the C-Store Ring

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Jumping into the ring with Weight Watchers and the South Beach Diet is the newest eat-healthy contender, Muhammad Ali, who has teamed up with confectionery company Mars Inc. to introduce a line of reduced-calorie foods and beverages for young adults into convenience stores early next year.

The New York Times reported that the first products to roll out in U.S. c-stores will be packaged snacks with names like Rumble, Shuffle and Jabs -- fruit-laden rolls and finger foods baked into signature shapes like boxing gloves and punching bags. Some flavors, like barbecued chicken and Buffalo wings, are a twist on snack classics, while others, like sweet corn and cole slaw, evoke the farmer's market.

The food's start-up is scheduled for Jan. 17, Ali's 65th birthday. The snacks signal the beginning of a more ambitious line of foods and beverages to follow.

The new line by the three-time heavyweight boxing champion has the aim of fighting youth obesity, with no snack containing more than 150 calories. Each is fortified with vitamins and fiber, said Edward Rapp, a senior member of Ali's new company, GOAT Food and Beverage (GOAT being an acronym for -- what else? -- Greatest of All Time), according to the The New York Times.

The percentage of people age 6 to 19 who are overweight in the United States has more than tripled since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Thirty percent of adults 20 years and older, more than 60 million people, are obese.

The new foods are engineered to fit into the "grazing" behavior of 16- to 24-year-olds Rapp said. They are intended to be eaten throughout the day, in seven "rounds." Round five, he said, is late in the day when people may need a vitamin-rich pick-me-up.

Nutritionally-enhanced foods are increasingly good sellers, Jack W. Plunkett, a food industry analyst, said in The New York Times report. He also noted that Mars Inc. would be involved only if it believed the foods would be major sellers, earning $50 million to $100 million a year.

This deal is the first brand creation for Ali, though he has lent his name to an Adidas line of shoes featuring famous athletes, and allowed his image to be used in an Apple computer campaign. It follows an announcement in April that the entertainment company CKX had paid $50 million for an 80 percent stake in Ali's name, image and likeness.