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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Secret of Muhammad Ali, Kickstarter Project by Al Satterwhite

Ali show off his 'secret'
Rarely seen images of Muhammad Ali training for his upcoming fights in the early 70s in Miami Beach after his 4 year suspension.

A Fine Art Photography book of Al Satterwhite's photographs of Muhammad Ali preparing for his first two fights after being denied the right to box for nearly four years - featuring both his iconic and never-before-seen images.

Ali at the bag
Most everyone is familiar with Muhammad Ali. And his fight pictures are legendary. My coverage is not of the fights but of the preparation before the fights, the camaraderie with his manager and trainers, his workouts in Miami Beach at the 5th Street Gym; walking around and riding around Miami Beach. It was a different time. And I include my recollections of being with "The Champ", who to me was a big pussycat, as friendly and fun as you can imagine. Besides my recollections, we've recruited 10 to 12 writers and a few of Ali's opponents to pen some remarks about their association with him, good or bad... but certainly interesting. 1970 and 1971 was an exciting time... not without it's ups and downs.

My super editors - JC Gabel and John Buffalo Mailer (both highly experienced)- have enlisted some great writers who are interested in providing never before seen reflections on Ali plus more - these will be interspersed throughout the book.

Gay Talese

Stanley Crouch

James Toback

Taki Theadoracopulous

Kevin Powell

Kostya Kennedy

Dick and Doris Goodwin

and more....

Ali during a workout replying to sportswriters questions
There will be three versions of the book - a General Edition, a Collector's Edition and an Artist's Edition- all editions will be hardcover. The Collector's Edition and Artist's Edition will be numbered and signed (see details below). There will only be 500 copies of the Collector's Edition and 200 copies of the Artist's Edition. All of these books will be printed to the highest standards on high quality fine art paper. And they will be designed by the award-winning designer, Aaron Drucker (who also designed my last book, The Cozumel Diary).

Ali close-up after a workout
Ali checking himself out in the mirror
The Project:

In the Seventies, I lived in Florida and was on contract to numerous magazines for assignments in the South. Camera Five, my agency in New York, called in September 1970 with assignments for various magazines (Time, Life, Paris Match, etc) to photograph Muhammad Ali working out in preparation for his upcoming fight in Atlanta in October. Ali hadn't fought in nearly 4 years due to his suspension by the boxing commission for his refusal to be inducted in the draft. He worked out at promoter Chris Dundee's 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach under the guidance of his trainer Angelo Dundee.

Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali's trainer
Chris Dundee, Muhammad Ali's promoter and owner of the 5th Street Gym

I introduced myself to Angie and Ali, and they made me feel totally at home, and paid me no more attention, perfect for a working photographer. In the next few days I got to know Ali by just being around. He treated me like a friend, not one of the press that were always hounding him.

Muhammad Ali talking to the press after a workout
I went on walks with him, showed up in the dark before dawn when he was running around Miami in his pre-dawn workout; rode around in the limo with him.

Ali in the limo in Miami Beach
He had a great sense of humor and was much fun, especially watching him tweak the sports writers who mostly seemed to be antagonistic towards him. We were close in age, far apart in life, but together we had fun.

Ali working out on the bag
Ali was BIG! He was INTIMIDATING! He was a hell of a lot of FUN…
Muhammad Ali in the ring at the Fifth Street Gym
The few photos of mine that were published in the magazines were overshadowed by the actual fight photos…. which I never covered; and were soon forgotten. I photographed Ali again a couple years later in Los Angeles at a benefit track meet that he sponsored. He still remembered me. After that the negatives sat in my files until recently when I started looking at what I have photographed over the years. There are over 50 rolls of Tri-X from those early years. I have edited the contact sheets and chosen 200 iconic images to choose from for this project.
Contact Sheet #1
Contact Sheet #2
Looking back, we photographers always wish we had shot more. I'm satisfied that I got the best images that were there. Motor drives don't make great photos, photographers do. I shot what I saw and I captured some great moments. Never to be relived…. the 5th Street Gym isn't even there anymore, having been demolished in the Nineties.
Ali working out with the speed bag
This book will be done the way I want, showing off my images of Muhammad Ali the best way possible. It will become a collector's book due to the limited number of copies available, and if you are an Ali fan or just like really good photography, I guarantee, you will like this book. You only get one shot at a book like this and I intend to make it the best.

Ali announcing his status for all to hear

Ali in the ring with his workout opponent

Ali showing off his moves
Ali in the ring in a moment of reflection
Ali close-up during a sparring workout

Book Specs:

Three versions will be printed: the General Edition (expected retail: $75), the Collector's Limited Edition (expected retail: $150) and the Artist's Limited Edition (expected retail: $500). These will all be First Edition books. Only 700 books will be available in the numbered and signed limited editions. Anyone interested should reserve their copy now as they may not be available in the same format later, and they will not be First Edition.

the General Edition:

     • Hardcover

     • 120~160 pages (to be determined)

     • 12 x12 inches (actual size to be determined)

     • printed on high quality heavyweight paper

     • printed in duo-tone or quad-tone (to be determined)

the Collector's Edition:

     • the General Edition book plus

     • a cloth or canvas covered slipcase (only 500 copies available)

     • depending on the level you choose:

          • signed contact sheet*

          • signed 8x10 archival pigment print*

the Artist's Limited Edition:

     • the General Edition book plus

     • a cloth or canvas covered clamshell (only 200 copies available)

     • depending on the level you choose:

          • signed contact sheet*

          • signed 8x10 archival pigment print*

          • 20 x 24-inch gelation silver print**

          • 24 x 36-inch archival pigment print*

          • 36 x 54-inch archival pigment print***

all prints unless otherwise noted are printed personally by the photographer, all others are printed under his direct supervision

*printed by the photographer, a Master Printer

**printed by Russell Adams/Schulman Photo Lab/Los Angeles

***printed by Bowhaus, Master Printer for Los Angeles galleries

NOTE: If you want more than one item, add up the cost of your items & pledge that amount on the highest-priced item and send me an email detailing what it is you want (this seems to be the work-around since you can only pledge once)

Risks and challenges
The risks are minimal, the challenge is for an award-winning fine art book worthy of Muhammad Ali. This will be my fifth in a series of fine art photography books I have published in the past 10 years, and my second Kickstarter book -The Cozumel Diary, adventures with Hunter S. Thompson in Mexico - published earlier this year. I have assembled my great team including my 2 editors, JC Gabel and John Buffalo Mailer - 2 of the best in the book editing world - and my award-winning designer, Aaron Drucker, primed and ready to go; I've edited and scanned over 600 images to choose from, and have 2 excellent printers ready to start their sheet-feed presses when we give them the final layout (I will choose the best, not the cheapest).

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