The Icon

I am saddened that we have lost a once-in-a-lifetime icon. A man who changed the way we saw — and viewed — the world. A man who changed the world. As a young photographer I saw Muhammad Ali fight twice in his prime. Once against Floyd Patterson in Vegas, and then with his mouth roaring in the Houston Astrodome against Ernie Terrell — “What’s my name?” Later, after he retired, I met him again at his home in Berrien Springs, Mich. That is where the two photos on his bike come from. Riding his bike was easier for Ali at that point than walking. Certainly wasn’t the image I was looking for, but the one that landed in my lap. The Ali-Frazier portraits were done in Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia in 2003. I loved both of those guys. Ali started out with his usual fun banter, but then went silent as we continued shooting for an hour. He knew everything I was saying, but verbally he could not respond. This shoot became one of the great moments of my career. Something that if you were fortunate enough, you had a chance to do once. Two warriors. The group shot was taken in 1999 at Madison Square Garden.

All photographs from the personal collection of Walter Iooss Jr. or via Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Walter Iooss Jr.