Neil Leifer may be the greatest sports photographer ever. His huge volume of work includes some of the most memorable shots ever taken.
They grazed the covers of Sports Illustrated and made the inside pages come alive.
Neil Leifer simply had a knack for capturing the perfect moment. His camera snapped thousands of great pictures from the 1950s to recent times. He’s out of semi-retirement and some of his best photos are now on display in Las Vegas.
His photos tell more than sports stories, though. Many of them depict life in a certain moment of American history as well as any book.
Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has opened the Neil Leifer Gallery — the only permanent art gallery spotlighting the celebrated photographer’s unforgettable images of sports and culture. Leifer’s photos have chronicled the lives of an entire generation. More than 200 have graced the covers of Sports Illustrated, Time and People magazines.
"If you are a sports fan, you have to be a Neil Leifer admirer, for you have been seeing his pictures and they’ve been shaping your impressions and memories for decades," said Bob Costas.
Located on the casino level of the resort’s new Augustus Tower, the Neil Leifer ("lifer") Gallery will debut with his most acclaimed sports photos, including Muhammad Ali’s victory over Sonny Liston — a split-second, crystal-clear glimpse of the charisma that would define a new era in boxing and in sport. Ali-Liston was chosen as the cover photograph for a Sports Illustrated issue titled "The Century’s Greatest Sports Photos." The August 2003 edition of London’s Observer Sport Monthly chose Leifer’s "Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams" picture No. 1, and his Ali-Liston image No. 2 in its ranking of the "World’s 50 Greatest Sports Photographs."
"Neil Leifer’s photographs chronicle sport as well as any journalist’s words," said Frank DeFord. "His photograph of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston is the most legendary sports photograph of the 20th century."
Other celebrated photographic images on display at Caesars Palace will include Secretariat winning the Kentucky Derby, famed football personalities Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath and Bear Bryant, and President John Kennedy with Vice President Lyndon Johnson after the president’s first pitch at baseball’s opening day in 1961.
"What Matthew Brady did for the Civil War era, and Ansel Adams did for the American landscape, Neil has accomplished in pictures that immortalize sports heroes and modern culture," said Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner. "Our guests will particularly like his sports photos. You see them and are transported to another time, reliving some of the most memorable events in sports and in life."
The gallery opening coincides with installation of 17 giant Leifer photos in the resort’s new Poker Room. Some are images Leifer created while covering events at Caesars Palace, such as Sonny Liston playing solitaire, Muhammad Ali and Diana Ross at the front of the hotel, and Sugar Ray Leonard battling Thomas Hearns in their record-breaking 1981 boxing showdown.