A 23 year-old kid was one of two photographers to have color film in his camera at ringside on May 25, 1965, when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine.
Neil Leifer found himself in front of Ali as he stood over Liston in what is known as the phantom punch. I interviewed Neil Leifer for Classic Sports Network a few years back and he said he was working with the bald man with the glasses that is in his shot. The older man is seen in some frames pointing to the young photog saying, “you have the shot.”
Leifer fired away and the shot of the champ yelling at Liston to “get up and fight sucker” has been regarded by many to be the most iconic image in sports history.
The fight was the re-match of the 1964 title bout in Miami where Ali beat Liston when the champion didn’t comeout for the 8th round and the man known as Cassius Clay shocked the world.
After winning the heavyweight championship, Clay became a Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. With his new found fame, Ali also drew the hate of some white people in America that weren’t ready for a black Muslim as the champion. As the story goes, Liston was so freaked out by the death threats that Ali was getting, he thought he was going to be killed by a sniper’s bullet that was meant for Ali and that’s why he took the dive from the “phantom punch” in the first round.
The color photo is available on Google, I’m a big fan of the grainy black and white version of the shot.
For more on the story, check out [SportsIllustrated]