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The story behind one of the most iconic sports photos of all time

Boxing great Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74.

Updated at 21.43

IN ONE OF the most iconic sport images of all time, we see a triumphant Muhammad Ali returning to his corner after dealing a devastating punch to Cleveland Williams in their 1966 bout.

ko Source: Neil Leifer

The picture, taken by Neil Leifer, was snapped from a camera suspended from the ceiling.

Leifer would claim this as his favourite shot of his 40-year career as a photographer. As in the photo, the two fighters, Ali and Williams, were symmetrical leading up to the bout. Both stood at 6 feet 3 inches, with Williams having a slight advantage in weight and possibly power, but Ali maintaining an important hand and foot speed advantage.

At the moment the picture was snapped, the fighters were posed in much the same way, with the important distinction being that Williams was dazed on his back, and Ali was standing tall and facing a cheering crowd.

Here’s a clip from the fight:

Source: joshmar11/YouTube

You can find out more info on this iconic photo here and here.

A version of this piece was originally published on 12 March.

‘They look pretty rough these football and hurling players’ – when Ali visited Ireland>

From Rome to Manila: Muhammad Ali ‘shook up the world>

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