World’s Greatest Athlete, The (1973): Disney’s Adventure,

Good-natured and naïve to a fault, Disney’s The World’s Greatest Athlete is a variation of the Tarzan story, combining adventure, slapstick comedy, and romance.

It’s one of the few Hollywood sports movies to look at the world of track and field.  Nanu, played by the handsome Jean-Michael Vincent, tries to make history by winning every event at the NCAA Track & Field Championship.

Sam Archer and his assistant Milo Jackson, coaches at Merrivale College, have lost every game in every sport, which upsets the head of the Alumni Association. With only one year left on his contract, Archer needs a vacation, and he and Jackson go to Zambia.

While out on a safari, they meet their guide Morumba of the Tarzan-like Nanu.  The coaching staff quickly decide to recruit him, but soon fall under the influenc of Nanu’s godfather, spiritual leader Gazenga.

Gazenga believes that throwing Nanu, who’s an orphan, into the world of competitive college athletics would interfere with his development.  But the ambitious coaches persuade Nanu to join the program.

Nanu’s innocence, Archer’s scheming, Jackson’s ineptitude, Gazenga’s wisdom, and the villains’ plotting all feature in the action.

The atmosphere of American competition threatens Nanu, but he’s saved by the love of Jane Douglas. Jane and Nanu’s relationship angers rival Leopold Maxwell, who attempts to sabotage the star.

The climactic track meet is accompanied with commentary by the real-life ABC sportscaster, Howard Cosell.