Behind the scenes with Muhammad Ali



By Kyle Almond, 
George Kalinsky, the longtime Madison Square Garden photographer, shares some of his memorable images of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.This iconic shot of the two boxers was taken as Ali left Frazier's gym. "I told (Ali) to keep up the showmanship," Kalinsky said. "It turned out to be one of my most famous pictures." Muhammad Ali trains at the 5th Street Gym in Miami in December 1965. The photo was taken by George Kalinsky, an amateur who noticed Ali on the street and then talked his way into the gym. "Ali's trainer, Angelo Dundee, stopped me and said you can't come in unless you pay a dollar," Kalinsky remembers. "I don't know why, but I said to Angelo, 'I'm the photographer of Madison Square Garden.' ... He looked at me and said, 'OK, comedian, come on in.' " Ironically, the Ali photos helped Kalinsky land an actual job at MSG a month later, so it wouldn't be the first time that he and the champ would cross paths.Ali poses with a poster for his 1976 fight against Norton. "The bottom line is that (Ali) was a great performer and he was a great athlete and he was a great entertainer," Kalinsky said. "And he was very playful. He always liked to do playful things, things that are a little different, things that would bring smiles to people's faces."In 1971, Kalinsky managed to get Ali and Joe Frazier together before their historic first fight, which was billed as the "Fight of the Century." The two were cooperative and friendly, Kalinsky said, as he took promotional shots at Frazier's gym in Philadelphia. "They had a tremendous amount of respect for each other."The two boxers fooled around for the camera at Kalinsky's request. "I said: 'Come on guys, you've got to make it look more realistic. Make it look like you're in the ring at the Garden, and I'll do what I have to do,' " Kalinsky recalled. "And they started jabbing a little bit, and Joe hits Ali in the stomach with a huge left and Ali goes down. ... Ali looked up at Joe and said, 'You son of a gun can really hit.' And Joe looks at Ali and he said: 'That's the way it's going to be the night of the fight.' " Frazier, of course, would go on to win the fight and hand Ali his first professional loss.While in Philadelphia, Kalinsky asked the boxers to "go a round" with him, pretending the camera was their opponent. He remembered being astonished by Ali's "incredible precision," his punches missing the camera by just a quarter of an inch. "With Joe it was a different story," Kalinsky said. "Joe made me very much afraid of him. After a few seconds I said: 'Joe, that's enough. You're gonna push the camera down my throat."Legendary jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie laughs with Ali at the boxer's training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, circa 1972. Kalinsky took many photos of Ali over the years, and the two formed a friendship.