NEW YORK — It was 55 years ago this week that Cassius Clay won the first title fight of what would become one of the most noteworthy athletic careers of the 20th century.
On Feb. 25, 1964, the boxer who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali won the world heavyweight championship with a sixth-round technical knockout of Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Hall.
Boxing fans who would like the opportunity to see the many faces of Clay in his years leading up to that fight now have the perfect opportunity thanks to the work of the late Stanley Weston.
Authentic Brands Group and the Stanley Weston Archive have formed a partnership to license an extensive collection of rarely seen photographs of the boxing legend.
In the collection Patrick Scholz, the grandson of magazine publisher, sportswriter, artist and photographer Stanley Weston, shares more than 1,200 rare portraits of the up-and-coming boxer Clay as he began his ascent to greatness.
The photographs were taken as Clay was rising to fame and, according to a press release, reveal the youth, greatness and warmth of the man with beautiful images that provide an intimate look into the life of the boxing legend.
“A few years ago, I came across a box of negatives taken by my grandfather, only to realize they were images of Muhammad Ali,” Scholz, owner of Stanley Weston Archive, said in the release. “My grandfather was proud to work with such legendary athletes, so I can only imagine how proud he would be of this partnership.”
Most of the photographs from Weston’s personal archives have rarely been published and remain unused commercially. Under the newly-formed partnership, ABG assumes the rights to the Stanley Weston Archive collection of images for partnerships under the Muhammad Ali brand.
Clay’s rematch with Liston came on May 25, 1965, at the Central Maine Youth Center in Lewiston. There, Clay won a controversial first-round knockout via what many called “the phantom punch” as Liston went down in the first round.
Stanley Weston was born in 1919 in The Bronx, New York. The family moved to Long Beach, New York, where they were neighbors of Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer.
Weston mowed the grass for the Fleischers as a teenager and Mr. Fleischer knew Weston was artistically inclined and asked him to colorize large black and white boxing photographs with oil colors. This launched what was to be his lifelong career as a photographer and publisher.
Weston became a staff writer and artist for Ring Magazine, painting 57 original oil paintings which were used as Ring Magazine covers. In 1941 he took a four-year leave of absence to serve in the Air Force during World War II.
Upon returning to civilian life in 1945, he returned to Ring, but left the publication in 1951. After another stint in the military during the Korean War, Weston launched Boxing & Wrestling magazine, a competitor to The Ring, in 1953. In 1958 he created Boxing Illustrated and published it until 1964.
Throughout his career, Stanley created many magazines including Boxing International, World Boxing and KO as well as many wrestling magazines. Pro Wrestling Illustrated was his most successful and still in publication today.
Weston captured the boxers of his day in and out of the ring, resulting in powerful candid portraits and action shots. He took over 1,200 images of Muhammad Ali that captured his career from as early as 1962 when he was just a contender, to winning the title in Miami Beach on Feb. 25, 1964, as well as a number of other fights and training shots.
Other icons Weston photographed included Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Ezzard Charles, Sonny Liston and Archie Moore. His far-reaching photography subjects include bullfights, U.S. generals Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and a personal photo archive of American History and Baseball.
The Stanley Weston Archive is a historical archive of boxing in the mid 20th century and also includes many of his own sketches and paintings.