New photo exhibit on Muhammad Ali opens in Pleasantville

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Marcus Solis is in Pleasantville with the latest details.

It's an exhibit that was months in the making: a famous photographer's tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

The tribute was made all the more poignant with the death of Ali last week.

It was a tall order, picking select photographs of the most photographed man in the world.

An exhibit entitled 'Muhammad Ali: American Champion', opened Monday in Pleasantville.

The images were all captured by a legend in his own right, Gordon Parks, the first African-American staff photographer at Life Magazine.

"The two were very close friends, remained in touch throughout their lives, and this exhibition is a testament to their friendship," said Peter Kunhardt Jr. of the Gordon Parks Foundation.

Some of the 22 photographs have never been seen before, like one of Ali behind the wheel of a Cadillac.

The black and white stills humanize the former champ, showing Ali being playful and prayerful outside of the ring, and fearsome inside it.

"There's a spiritual essence to them that you feel like these two men, these two giants in their field were close friends," said Kunhardt.

The exhibit was planned months ago, long before Ali's death last week, but the timing makes the images even more powerful.

The Gordon Parks Foundation opened in Pleasantville a year ago, the photographer's archives preserved in a climate-controlled room.

"They were both fighting for the same thing, for a better life and a better world, and standing up for civil rights," said Kunhardt.

The exhibit includes the image selected by the New York Times to run alongside this weekend's obituary.

The exhibit is free and runs through September 24th.

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