Stories of Ali

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Stories of Ali, a program hosted by the Muhammad Ali Center, was created by the Center’s Collection Department to bring the Muhammad Ali Oral History Project to life, allowing the community an opportunity to experience the project firsthand.

While the world knew Muhammad as a three-time heavyweight champion boxer, cultural icon, and global humanitarian, Stories of Ali aims to introduce to the public the more subtle sides of Muhammad: as a man with layers and complications and relationships.

Each event focuses on a specific topic of Muhammad’s life, inviting two or three persons knowledgeable about the theme to participate in a public oral history forum, facilitated by the Collection Department.

Stories of Ali is FREE and open to the public.

Upcoming Stories of Ali

October 13 - Deer Lake Training Camp in Pennsylvania
Deer Lake Training Camp was purchased by Muhammad Ali in 1972, and he was actively present there until roughly 1980. There he trained for several fights, including bouts against George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry, Ernie Shavers, Frazier (Fight III), and Larry Holmes. The camp had many famous visitors during that time as well, like Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, etc.

Speakers will include:

  • Mike Madden– Son of John Madden – purchased the property in 2016 after Muhammad Ali passed and has been working to restore the property and buildings to their original glory.
  • Sonia Katchian’s photo career started with a full page in LIFE magazine. George C. Wallace, candidate for president, had just been shot and was sprawled on the ground at a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland. She began to teach photography at the Women’s Interart Center, encouraging other women to enter the field; then became a founding member of the Soho Photo Gallery. She was the first woman staff photographer at The New York Post, and co-authored Women See Woman published in 1975 by Harper & Row. Sonia met Muhammad Ali at Saks Fifth Avenue as he was rushing out the door. She caught up with him just as his taxi was about to take off. He asked the driver to stop, wrote down his number to the Deer Lake training camp, and “the rest is history.” Her first photographs at Deer Lake led to assignments to photograph him in Zaïre, Manila, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, etc., from Sports IllustratedTime, The New York TimesSport magazine, among many others. Her photos of Ali are in museums and private collections around the world and part of a traveling exhibition and an exclusive folio of prints, The ALI Folio, at http://alifolio.com/. In the mid-70’s Sonia covered the civil war in Beirut, was kidnapped and, after negotiations, set free. In the ’80’s she moved from NYC to Tokyo where she initiated Photo Shuttle: Japan, http://photoshuttle.com/index2.mgi specializing in photos of Japanese life and business for a decade for clients such as Forbes,The NY Times, Business Week, Asahi Camera, Citicorp. Sonia currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Jeff Julian is a photographer whose boxing related photographs have been published in many various books, magazines, newspapers and websites. His photos have been used in several documentaries and are included in the collection of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He worked closely with the Muhammad Ali Center in its infancy (2003-2004), designing and producing an inaugural poster, as well as a set of limited edition prints signed by Ali. These projects helped promote awareness and raise funds for the Ali Center. Mr. Julian has been working closely with Mike Madden, new owner of Aliʼs old Deer Lake training camp, doing research, acquiring items for display, and photographing the historic siteʼs extensive restoration.

Past Stories of Ali

For questions or more information, contact Bess Goldy at bgoldy@alicenter.org.

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