Sports Illustrated had two ringside photographers at Ali v Liston but the point is I didn’t pick the seat and I didn’t know Ali was going to down him [so early]. Leifer recalls, ‘About 350 US press people had flown to Europe for a stop-off on the way to Zaire. Football has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when grown men were kicking and tossing around an actual inflated pig’s bladder.

But he never could have imagined the gift he was going to receive later that day. He depressed the shutter as Colts running back Alan Ameche rushed into the end zone from one yard out to secure the Colts 23-17 victory in the first NFL playoff sudden death overtime game in the league’s history. In this corner of the ring -- in fact, in every corner of the ring -- stands Neil Leifer. For The Fight, Leifer worked closely with publisher Taschen for his input on picture choices and he explains, ‘It’s a great book. It’s the only picture I’ve ever shot that I wouldn’t change anything about.’. So it wasn’t one league, it was two. But even with autofocus, it’s still about the photographer behind the lens.

By the time he left TIME Inc., in 1990, Leifer had more than 200 Sports Illustrated, TIME and People magazine covers to his name. DPP: But when you started covering football, you had to quickly manually focus long lenses with shallow depths of field on constantly moving subjects. There are moments like a runner trying to take out a second baseman or shortstop to break up a double play or a slam-bang play where a runner is trying to knock the ball out of the catcher’s glove at home plate. After a training session in Zaire it was common practice for Ali to sit on the ring apron and address the crowd, Unsurprisingly, when asked about his favourite ever subject Leifer swiftly replies, ‘Muhammad Ali. Leifer snuck a Yashica Mat camera, what he calls “a poor man’s Rolleiflex,” into the stadium to photograph the game because he didn’t have press credentials.

As was said earlier, there is a legitimate chance that Neil is the greatest sports photographer [4] to have ever held a camera in his hands. I’m blown away by some of their pictures. Leifer watched Duane Bobick and Roy “Cookie” Wallace go at it at Nassau Coliseum in 1975. Portraits. It’s the only picture I’ve ever shot that I wouldn’t change anything about.’ The image was shot remotely from 80ft up in the roof of the Houston Astrodome in Texas. Galleries.

The NFL had been around for a number of years, but nobody cared. I was the one who figured out that this picture could be taken. The limited edition book combines the photographs of Howard L Bingham, who was a close personal friend of Ali, with Leifer’s images and Norman Mailer’s text, as well as memorabilia surrounding the fight and the odd still by photographers such as Lynn Goldsmith, Tony Triolo and William Klein.

I worked very hard. Neil Leifer grew up in the projects area of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, and his interest in photography was sparked at the age of 13 by joining a camera club in one of the ‘settlement houses’, which provided education for low-income families. We didn’t just turn up in the afternoon after a few drinks and take pictures. In football, there’s potentially a great photograph on every single play. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Most of t Walter Iooss said it best; he’s a good friend and was my peer and competitor during the years I worked at Sports Illustrated. In baseball, you’re in a fixed position such as the photographer’s pit on either the first base side or the third base side or upstairs, and you sit there with a long lens and wait for the action.

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