snapshots and observations

Friday, 4 November 2011

boxing with ali - chris smith

last night i swerved over to fleet street to attend the opening night 
of chris smith's exhibition of photographs, "boxing with ali"

chris smith is regarded as something of a legend in the world of sports photography.
he's also the dad of two of my friends dan and josh.

the exhibition was in a small gallery in fleet street and in a shock move
i didn't have a proper camera with me... all these shots were taken with 
my new iphone 4s.

this is pretty much the view as i entered
there were large prints of ali on the walls and smaller sizes hung on
washing lines across the room.

for my birthday a few years ago, josh gave me a big print of this...
ali meeting the beatles in miami ( 1964 )

it's a great photo, perhaps difficult to see here, but the detail is incredible.
the beatles are wearing terry towelling shirts, which i guess were from the hotel ?
( my friend gerry probably knows the origins of the shirts )

the exhibition crowd was an interesting mixture of people:
 city types who i guess fancied splashing out some cash on the prints. 
photography types, to look at amazing images from a bygone era and to talk to a legend.
old fleet street journalists who spent ages looking closely at the prints,
reminiscing about being there at the time they were taken.
i spent a lot of time talking to the old boxing journalists. they pointed out figures in the background of chris's photos and told me who they were, what they did...
and of course some funny stories about ali and how it was all so different
back in the 1960's

the fellow in the centre here, below the print of ali in the ring...
he had some great stories from back in the day.
if ever there was a night when i should have taken gerry with me this was it...
lots of talk about the 1960's at a venue in fleet street... with free booze !

here's a photo of chris smith chatting with a few old mates. isn't that colin hart 
second from the left ? ( the famous boxing writer )
but never mind the old hacks... check out the prints in the background.

this is a classic photo
ali brought boxing into a new era. he made it entertaining in a showbiz way.
you know that i like the odd catchphrase and so did ali.
"float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" was absolute genius.

( though it niggles me that there's a gap between 'butter' and 'fly' )

this print is also a gem
you know full well ali was just about to say something funny here.

i'd seen a lot of the prints before to be honest. they are absolute classic images.
there was one shot that i'd never seen though, that cracked me up and 
brought back memories of seeing ali on telly when i was a nipper.
i used to love his poems, the style in which he spoke... and the way he always
put down joe frazier ( didn't he always insist on how joe frazier was ugly and how
he himself was pretty ? )
well seeing this shot of chris's seemed to sum it all up for me.
a beautifully designed and crafted fake 'wanted' poster for the illegal 'whuppin'
of joe 'tramp' frazier
look at ali's face... he's loving it. you know he's just about to say "i'm the greatest"
or "i can't be beat" "i'm too pretty to lose" etc etc...

fantastic photos of a great man from a top photographer.

if you get a chance, check them out:

boxing with ali
piero passet gallery, 21 fleet street, ec4a 1aa

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