Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, 1970

On September 15, 1978, boxer Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to win the world heavyweight boxing title for the third time in his career, the first fighter ever to do so.

“I photographed (Ali) in 1970, as part of a series of young people for ‘Look’ Magazine… Muhammad Ali arrived at my New York studio with a breathless young editor trailing behind. They had jogged together from the ‘Look’ offices, the young editor carrying Ali’s heavy portable telephone which Ali said kept him in ‘constant contact with the world.’ Since the editor was a slight young man, I smiled to myself as I imagined this improbable duo and the incredulous stares of the passers-by as they made their way up Madison Avenue. ‘The Greatest’ and I talked about his triumphs, about patent medicine, about the commercials he was making, but there was for me no real contact. The pinstriped suit he wore for our sitting was chosen not for business but to command the respect he rightly felt he deserved.”