Muhammad Ali: Training Days

Intimate Portraits of the Legendary Boxer Pre-Rumble in the Jungle

In 1974, boxing enthusiasts the world over had only one contest on their minds. Staged in the unforgivingly humid Mai 20 Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of Congo), the “Rumble in the Jungle” saw the sport’s most iconic figure, Muhammad Ali, snatch back the world heavyweight title from the formidable George Foreman in a ferocious battle of wills. Former Sunday Times art editor David King tracked Ali down at his training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, prior to the fight, where for eight weeks he captured everything from his intensive sparring sessions to the boxer’s inner circle of family and friends. The resulting images were published a year later in the photographer's pictorial biography I Am King. “I’d always been a great fan of Ali because my mother loved boxing and we used to listen to the fights from Madison Square Garden on the radio at two o’clock in the morning,” says King, who is an authority and collector of ephemera from the Soviet era and curates a permanent room on the subject at Tate Modern. “For disaffected people like me at that time, Ali was an amazing role model.” Muhammad Ali: An Exhibition of Photographs by David King opens March 19 at Lucy Bell Fine Art, St. Leonards, East Sussex.

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