The Greatest
The Greatest
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It’s a little belated now, what with our recent Southside saunter around Battlefield and the Brexit blogs, but it would be remiss of me not to mention here the recent passing of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, who died after a long illness earlier this month.


As a kid in school, I knew nothing about Vietnam, Islam, or Black Power, but just thought of Ali as a real-life superhero, the stuff of legends, as did everyone else at school.  When he fought Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971 at Madison Square Gardens, in what became known as the ‘Fight of the Century’, everybody in my school wanted Ali to win – and shocked when he didn’t. 


But that was only to be the first of the three-fight trilogy staged by these two iconic pugilists that raised the profile of the age-old art of boxing in the public eye, and it evolved into a conflict in the ring that ennobled both gladiators and defined the essence of what is, essentially, a brutal sport.  And  the popular media lapped it up, and how. 


Even to this day, I remember the thrill of the Saturday night in December 1971 when Ali became a popular figure in the UK after appearing on a TV show – only this time, it was the tongues that were doing all the lashing with his memorable first verbal match-up with Michael “Parky” Parkinson on his BBC talk show.  


By the common consent of viewers, Ali, on his 1971 debut, was the greatest chatshow guest British television has ever seen. The host echoes this verdict in his memoirs, although noting that the boxer’s second and third appearances, in 1974 and 1981, showed Ali as first a more complex, and then ultimately a tragic, figure, with the greatest fight of his life ahead of him ironically being not with Parkinson but Parkinson’s disease.


Leica M3 & 2/50mm Summicron v5

B+W Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7:30 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan