A new exhibition showcases previously unseen shots of the man himself.
Recent weeks have seen new sporting champions made and legends created, yet none will ever come close to the man most recognised as ‘The Greatest.’
London’s Olympic Stadium witnessed the latest in a long line of iconic sporting images, however a mere ring walk away from the stadium, Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery plays host to a stunning unique retrospective exhibition, marking the 70th birthday celebrations of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.
The culmination of two years painstaking preparation, In The Rings With Ali is the brainchild of Dutch photographer Christina Jansen, who first captured the photogenic Ali in 1986:
“My initial impression of him was that he has an incredible aura, with a tremendous wit and intelligence. More than just your average boxer, you see all his bravado, yet it’s all a game.
"I had these few pictures of Ali, which no one had seen, so I thought it would be great to commemorate the year of his 70th birthday with 70 images, celebrating what is an amazing man and his huge effect on the world.”
Alongside Christina’s previously unseen shots, you’ll find an exhibition showcasing Ali’s most memorable moments from an illustrious career in the ring and also his eventful life away from the gum shield and gloves.
‘The Passion of Muhammad Ali’, Carl Fischer’s iconic shot, featured famously as the Esquire front cover in April 1968, shares centre stage with the works of other leading photographers, including Michael Gaffney, Terry O’Neill and Chris Smith and mesmeric artists George Kalinsky, Danny MacAskill and Roberto Rabanne.
One of the first to cast his eyes over the captivating collection, an overwhelmed Rahaman Ali, brother of the three-time world heavyweight champion, flew over to open the exhibition. “My brother’s always been special and it makes me thrilled and so proud to be the brother of such a great man.
His house is like a museum and he does occasionally look back at footage of his fights, but for me, my fondest memory is when he won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in 1964. He fulfilled his life dream that night.”
Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery until 30th September (Thurs, Fri 5-9pm. Sat, Sun 12-5pm), www.in-the-rings-with-ali.com
A percentage of the profits from sold artwork will go to Amnesty International, Parkinson’s Research and a local boxing club in East London. The exhibition also teams-up with ‘The Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme,’ crucially aiding youngsters in the local community.
Words by Nick Dines
Top image - ©Ken Regan
© Terry O'Neil
© Chris Smith