15 Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

In 1977, award-winning photojournalist Michael Gaffney was working on a New Jersey paper when he heard Elvis Presley had died.

Gaffney made it his mission to photograph another legend of the time who was nearing the end of his career: the heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali.

This is his story and his collection.

Muhammad Ali at boxing camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Press conference hours before the Earnie Shavers fight, Madison Square Garden, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Sylvester Stallone, who was inspired to write Rocky after seeing the Muhammad Ali/Chuck Wepner fight in 1975, meets Ali in the locker room to wish him luck before the fight.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

In the hours before his fight with Earnie Shavers fight, Ali worked alone on his hand and foot speed. He’s pictured here in an empty Madison Square Garden.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Madison Square Garden, NYC.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Minutes before the fight, Angelo Dundee tapes Ali’s hands in the locker room.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Ali and Earnie Shavers, Madison Square Garden, NYC, 1977. Ali won after 15 rounds.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Fifth Street Gym, Miami Beach, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Ali trained his legs by running on the sand in heavy combat boots so his boxing shoes would feel lighter in the ring. Miami Beach, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

“I carried around a small cassette recorder that I used to interview the Champ and record limo rides, spontaneous moments, wild press conferences, and his lectures.”

Ali and his family in the RV heading from Deer Lake to Washington, DC, to see US president Jimmy Carter, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Ali on the streets of Detroit, Michigan, 1977.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Mirror-boxing at Deer Lake, 1978.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

The most famous boxing corner in history, Wali “Blood” Muhammad and Drew “Bundini” Brown, at work on the Champ late in his first fight against Spinks in 1978.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Muhammad Ali at the Fifth Street Gym, Miami Beach, Florida, shortly after his loss of the world heavyweight championship to Leon Spinks, in 1978, at the age of 36. Seven months later, he won it back.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

 

Ali beat Spinks to win the heavyweight world championship for an unprecedented third time. His bodyguard, Pat Patterson, shot his hand into the air in the press scrum: three. Ali’s record stands unbeaten. It was the last win of his professional career.

Rare Photos Of Muhammad Ali

Michael Gaffney

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