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TO OCT. 17
The Observer magazine of London recently awarded Neil Leifer’s Ali vs. Williams the title Greatest Sporting Image of All Time. And it’s well-deserved: The iconic photograph is a birds-eye shot of Ali in all of his gladiatorial glory—arms raised in triumph, standing over a prostrate Cleveland Williams, who mirrors the champ’s pose from his position on the mat. Not surprisingly, the photo was also picked to grace the cover of Greatest of All Time: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali, a gorgeous, exorbitantly expensive 792–page monstrosity devoted entirely to the only athlete of the last century who’s worthy of the tribute. Also included in the package is Leifer’s classic shot of Ali standing, in his recognizably cocky manner, over the fallen Sonny Liston (Ali vs. Liston II), which challenges Ali vs. Williams for photographic supremacy, if only because of the historic moment that it captures. Superlatives and mythological imagery flow freely when you’re describing Leifer’s ability to convey Ali’s immeasurable power and grace (pictured). And indeed, there is as much pathos, comedy, and tragedy in these works as in those of Aristophanes and Sophocles. Some of Leifer’s images are on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, to Sunday, Oct. 17, at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180. (David Dunlap Jr.)