It was easier to get Ali to pose than Frazier. Joe still resented all the torment Ali had caused him over the years. Ali had made all the money, too. Joe finally agreed to pose when we offered to go to his gym in Philadelphia.I knew it would be a difficult shoot because Ali had Parkinson’s and, I learned that day, Frazier had diabetes.
Ali walked in, and I set a stool in the ring for him to sit on. Joe said, “What about me? Man, I can barely walk. My legs are killing me.” But they were happy, joking around and hamming it up in every shot.Near the end I switched from color to sepia film. I said, “Look, guys, just stare at the camera. No smiles, no gags.” I did one frame, then a second, and there it was, the picture I was looking for: two battered warriors who’d left their lives in the ring.
– photograph by Walter Iooss Jr. for Sports Illustrated