The story behind this amazing photo of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali died today, aged 74.

In one of the most iconic sport images of all time, we see a triumphant Muhammad Ali returning to his corner after dealing a devastating knockout blow to Cleveland Williams in the 3rd round of their 1966 bout.

Muhammad ali cleveland williams knockout victory 1966Neil LeiferMuhammad Ali knocks out Cleveland Williams, 1966

The picture, taken by Neil Leifer, was snapped from a camera suspended from the ceiling. Leifer would claim this as his favourite shot of his 40 year career as a photographer.

Like the photo, the two fighters, Ali and Williams, were symmetrical leading up to the bout. Both fighters stood at 6’3”, with Williams having a slight advantage in weight and possibly power, but Ali maintaining an important hand and foot speed advantage.

At the moment the picture was snapped, Ali and Williams are posed in much the same way, with the important distinction being that Williams was dazed on his back after being counted out, and Ali was standing tall and facing a cheering crowd.

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