Neil Leifer is an iconic sports photographer, who’s guaranteed immortality for his famous photo of Muhammad Ali standing over a decked Sonny Liston in their second, albeit brief concussive ring encounter in Lewiston, Maine.
Neil who certainly clicked with the WBC at its fifty sixth annual Convention in Kiev, modestly suggested he was in a lucky seat, and luck separates the men from the boys.
Neil followed Muhammad Ali’s career from beginning to end and appreciably beyond said: “There’s never been anyone like Ali.” Another all time great photo of Ali knocking Cleveland Williams, from above and also from the ringside trenches range. An earlier one of him defeating but not fulfilling his KO round prediction against Doug Jones.
With a photo session. Ali would say just twenty minutes, but one hour forty minutes later, Ali was still making suggestions himself.
Dexterous and blessed with nimble footwork, Ali was even keen to be photographed changing one of his babies’ diapers, but couldn’t pin it down at all….for toffee!
Neil had to isolate Ali for studio photo sessions, recalling: “All he needed for fun, was an audience of one! And he said to me: “This is really good, but how could you miss with a subject like me?”
In Zaire Ali’s early morning walk transformed him into ax pied piper. A marvelous photo of him, his Mum and Dad plus younger brother Rudy, who became Rahman.
Another all time famous photo of Ali glancing a punch off Joe Frazier’s head during the Thrilla in Manila, and the only photo of Ali raising his arms in victory, just moments after the fight had been stopped.
Also Photos after Ali’s retirement in a more relaxed setting.
It’s no accident that Neil is the only photographer to so far be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
At the end of the talk, so many wanted to be photographed with Neil. He even took a snapshot himself!