"> Guess WHO! - Titi Omo-Ettu

Guess WHO!

March 25, 2021



“History has it that what propelled the young man to find himself in the ring was when someone stole his bicycle, and from here he decided to “whup the thief”. But never got the chance, but thinking one day the opportunity would come to beat this thief, he took some boxing lessons and six years later, in his teens, he won an Olympic gold medal and less than 3 years later, he became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

He won great matches against great men ranging from punches to the head of George Foreman, fierce uppercut on Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. Later, reports had it that the young champion was seen developing early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease which could have been because of his fight during his boxing days. As he’s known to have the forbearance to be able to take lots of punches until he wears the opponent out. But with this sign of disease, he kept boxing, even as his disability made every moment a chore.

Eventually, he had no choice. It was time to retire or face the prospect that one more punch to the head might take away his last breath. He then retired.

It was Known that his ailing health could no longer allow him to speak. His brain was damaged, losing its ability to function on all levels. His bladder was said to have failed. The one time agile, quick, and strong body capitulated to a much stronger, microscopic virus.

British photographer Zenon Texeira got the chance of a lifetime when he traveled to Phoenix to photograph the boxing legend. The shoot produced haunting, intimate photos of a champion ravaged by age and Parkinson’s disease, though the spark clearly was still there.

After Mohammed Ali died, Texeira spoke in England about the final shoot saying at first, he worried that Ali would not be well enough to take part. But his fears were soon allayed, as “The Greatest” was “feeling well and rested”:

“His skin glistens and he is meticulously groomed with cool dark sunglasses hiding his eyes.
“He is helped into an armchair and it’s clear to see how fragile this man has become.
“However, I am told that even though he may not respond he understands every word.
“I do what I have to do and 45 minutes later wrap the shoot, over the moon with what I have captured.
“I hold his hand, thank him, tell him that I’ll pray for him and kiss his forehead as I say goodbye.”
“Muhammad Ali was a delight to photograph,” he told the Sun. “I feel blessed to have met my all-time sporting hero. To capture his majesty with such intimacy fulfills a dream.”

The day after a Friday, Muhammad Ali passed.

The Sun put one of Texeira’s photos on its front cover for the following Monday’s edition”.

What you see above is the shot Texeira took….the last shot of Mohammed Ali.

That is the Mohammed Ali many never saw. The one they saw ‘are’:


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