Hackney exhibition of images of the greatest boxer of all time

The Greatest – boxer Muhammad Ali – is the subject of an art exhibition at a gallery overlooking the Olympic Stadium.

The champion light heavyweight won gold at the Rome Games in 1960 and lighted the Olympic cauldron at Atlanta 1996.

He once said: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

The exhibition, In the Rings with Ali, marks his 70th birthday and celebrates his efforts – both in sport and humanitarian work – through photos and paintings.

He delivered pre-fight insults in rhyming couplets and described his fighting style as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” but for the last 25 years, despite suffering increasing physical disability caused by Parkinson’s syndrome, he has fought for causes including poverty, education, adoption and race relations.

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Memorabilia, audio and video installations and poetry also feature in the show that was organised by Dutch photographer Christina Jansen who first met and took pictures of Ali in 1986.

Iconic images in the exhibition include personal shots by Michael Gaffney, Ali’s personal photographer in 1977, and photos by Ken Regan, who famously pictured the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan but captures Ali in the heat of a fight dripping with sweat.

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Following the exhibition, organisers and ex-boxers will deliver the Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme to work with young boxers from England and Holland.

All artwork is for sale and proceeds will go to Amnesty International, Parkinson’s research and grass roots boxing in East London.

The exhibition is at the Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Stour Road, from July 20-26 and August 13-28. Opening times are Thurs-Fri, 5-9pm and Sat-Sun, noon-5pm. For details, visit the website at www.smokehousegallery.org.

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