Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier was billed as the “Fight of the Century” and, in preparation for the March 8, 1971 bout, Ali spent time in Miami Beach training at the famed 5th Street Gym. One-of-a-kind photos chronicling his preparations is now be on display at HistoryMiami Museum in a new exhibition titled Muhammad Ali in Miami: Training for the “Fight of the Century.” The images will be displayed through August 29 within a new photography gallery dedicated to exhibiting selections from the museum’s extensive image collection.
With the support of the Knight Foundation, HistoryMiami Museum recently acquired the “ALI/MIA” portfolio of 20 silver gelatin photographs selected and handmade by photographer and Miami resident Andrew Kaufman. Seventeen of the images document Ali’s time training for the fight. Three additional images taken in 1981 capture Ali’s final fight, “Drama in Bahama,” against Trevor Berbick. The photographs were taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Larry Spitzer and Jebb Harris of the Louisville’s Courier-Journal, who covered the Kentucky native for more than a decade. Kaufman’s portfolio is a portion of the work featured in the book Picture: Muhammad Ali, published by PSG.
“These photos captured a historic moment for Ali. He was just returning to boxing after his conviction for refusing to register for the draft in 1967 had been overturned,” HistoryMiami Museum Executive Director Jorge Zamanillo said. “These photos show him preparing to return to the biggest stage in sports at that time, and we hope everyone will visit the museum to view an incredible and rarely seen collection of images.”
“ALI/MIA” will launch a new gallery space dedicated to exhibiting highlights from the museum’s collection of more than two million historical images. Selections will be displayed on a rotating basis. The institution’s image collection documents South Florida history from the late 1800s to the present. Notable strengths include photojournalism, aerial photography, street scenes, architectural photography, and images of everyday life.
“We want to make sure the incredible photography that lives in our collection is widely accessible, so we created a special space to help us share it with the community,” said Michael Knoll, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs/chief curator. “We’re proud to open this new gallery by featuring ‘ALI/MIA,’ and we look forward to presenting more highlights from our collection within this space in the years to come.”
Open Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday noon – 5 p.m., HistoryMiami Museum is currently offering complimentary admission. For more information, visit historymiami.org.