MUHAMMAD ALI fought to regain the world heavyweight boxing titlein October 1974 – eight years after being stripped of the belt for refusing the draft for Vietnam.
Ali faced the undefeated heavyweight champ and brutal knockout specialist George Foreman in Zaire, Africa – a fight that would go down in history as "The Rumble in the Jungle."
In August, two months prior to the showdown, photographer Peter Angelo Simon was invited to experience Ali's preparation for the fight at the Fighter's Heaven training camp in Pennsylvania.
Over 48-hours, Simon took hundreds of pictures, which have been published as an 176-page photo essay entitled Muhammad Ali Fighter's Heaven 1974, with previously unpublished photos of the fighter in isolated training in Orwigsburg.
During an interview with the LA Shorts International Film Festival, Simon remembered shooting 33 rolls over the two days at Fighter’s Heaven.
“I shot 33 rolls in two days. Ali said nobody had ever taken so many pictures of him. I believe these photographs reveal aspects of Ali’s fascinating character not previously seen,” Simon said.
The photographer, who at the time knew very little about boxing, quickly noticed that everywhere Ali went he was like “a magnet with iron filings, arranging themselves around him.”
Ali participated in an exhibition fight at a local Pennsylvania gym, with fans in awe at the sight of the former world heavyweight champion, taking photos of him, smiling, cheering and clapping.
Simon was surprised when he jumped into a car with Ali and unexpectedly drove to a nursing home.
The fighter was welcomed by the head of the home and toured through the facility meeting and greeting the elderly residences.
Simon vividly remembers the moment a nurse asked a resident if he knew who Ali was as the elderly man responded, “Yes, Joe Louis.”
A laughing Simon said, “Ali was kind enough and sophisticated enough to let it pass and let the man enjoy the fact that he had met the great fighter Joe Louis.”
On October 30, Ali, considered the underdog, knocked out Foreman in front of 60,000 people.
He famously used the rope-a-dope technique, in which one fighter lets their opponent punch themselves out by defending, leaving the aggressor tired.
The heavyweight champ kept firing haymakers at Ali but failed to land a decisive punch.
Ali then went on the attack, landing an eighth round knockout over the faltering champion, marking an incredible comeback to the pinnacle of the sport.
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