There’s a story behind that photo of Muhammad Ali in a boxing stance underwater that probably not too many people know about.
Ali, who went by “Cassius Clay” at the time the photo was taken in 1961, was only 19 years old and was training in a pool when photographer Flip Schulke stopped by for a scheduled shoot for Sports Illustrated. Ali told Schulke that he was training in the water because it acted like weight resistance, so Schulke decided to do the shoot underwater.
The iconic photo was ultimately rejected by Sports Illustrated because its editors thought it was too strange, but Life snatched it up.
“When I called the editor at Sports Illustrated, he thought I was crazy for taking pictures of a boxer in a swimming pool,” wrote Schulke in his 2003 book, Witness to Our Times. “So I called Life magazine, and they liked the idea. In those days, Life loved to beat out its sister publication on a story, so I went back to take pictures in the pool.”
Since Ali’s death last week, many people have chosen their own special way to remember the champ, but Michael B. Jordan probably captured his essence best with a re-creation of the pool photo.
Jordan, who honed his own boxing skills for last year’s Creed, posted his tribute on Instagram.
“Respect to the GOAT. Your legacy will live forever!” Jordan’s photo read.
Now, that’s what you call a tribute.