An exhibition of photographs by David King, currently on show at Lucy Bell gallery in St Leonards in the UK, reveals Muhammad Ali at his training camp in the Pennsylvania Mountains in 1974, where he was preparing for the legendary ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ bout against George Foreman that took place later that year in Zaire…
King, a former art editor at the Sunday Times, took the photographs over an eight week period. The images appeared in his photographic biography of Ali, I Am King, that was published by Penguin in 1975, and looking at them now it seems hard to believe that at the time they were taken, Ali was very much the underdog in the fight.
He famously attempted to break Foreman’s spirit in the lead up to the bout with his skilful way with words. Speaking post-fight in the Penguin book, his character radiates through his words: ‘I told you all that I was the greatest of all time… ‘I kept tellin’ him that he has no punch, couldn’t hit, swings like a sissy! He’s missin’! Let me see yer box! I didn’t dance from the second round on, I stayed on the ropes… I told him he has no power… I was blockin’ and I was pullin’ back. I have this radar built inside me to avoid George’s punches! I told you I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. So that’s what happened!’
All images: © David King
The exhibition at Lucy Bell will continue until April 29. For more info, visit lucy-bell.com.
Please note that in the April 2011 issue of CR, where one of these images appeared, the photo was wrongly attributed to David Bell. Apologies for this error.
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