MUHAMMAD ALI by Bob Kessel


Bob Kessel has created a picture of Muhammad Ali immortalizing the iconic image of Ali standing over Sonny Liston at the end of their famous fight as part of his “American Icons” art series. It is available as a limited edition art prints and originals. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Jersey Joe presided over a fight that even today still contains a mystery, a short fight that has become the most written about and talked about of all time. It lasted one minute and 42 seconds only. Ali threw three punches of note, Liston none at all. The first came almost before the bell had finished ringing, a stiff right cross. The second was a clip to Liston’s head, again with the right hand that appeared to stun him. The third, which practically no one, including Liston himself, even saw in real time was a flashing right hadn’t that lifted Liston’s left leg and sent him to the canvas for a long count.

The punch, which Ali was quick to call the anchor punch, has been analyzed endlessly. Seen now with the benefit of slow motion technology. It is exquisitely timed and certainly concussive almost like the blow of a martial artist. Liston shakes and slumps to the floor. Only sonny would ever truly know what effect it had.

The punch had certainly duped the crowd. The columnist jimmy cannon proclaimed from ringside that “it wouldn’t have dented a grape…” the audience became convinced the fight was fixed a view that became popular over the following months. “Boxing wants no more of Liston,” intoned the ring magazine. Ali himself said afterwards: “the punch jarred him. It was a good punch but I didn’t think I hit him so hard he couldn’t get up.”

Ali stood over Liston, screaming at him to stand up and fight. Sonny couldn’t or wouldn’t. Jersey Joe Walcott failed to get Ali to a neutral corner. Transfixed by Ali’s manic behavior, Walcott didn’t realize Liston had been on the floor for a full 17 seconds by the time he finally got to his feet.

Walcott wiped down sonny’s gloves and ordered the fighters to resume. Only when a journalist at ringside alerted him to the fact Liston had been counted out by the timekeeper did Walcott signal the fight was over. For the second time, an ali-vs-liston bout concluded in chaos.

Bob kessel’s American Icons art series also includes Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, Charles Bukowski, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, John F Kennedy and many more.

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