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When ‘The Greatest’ boxed in little Switzerland

Zurich, 1971: Muhammed Ali beats German underdog Jürgen Blin. Photographer Eric Bachmann accompanied the global superstar as he prepared for the fight, creating a collection of images that reveal unique glimpses of Ali as an athlete and a person.

Ali’s fight in Zurich’s Hallenstadion on December 26, 1971 against the unknown Blin doesn’t compare to classics like the “Thrilla in Manila” or the “Rumble in the Jungle”. But in contrast to those made-for-television events, Bachmann’s black and white photos show Ali in another world – whether he’s running in wintry woods of Zurich’s Uetliberg, buying hiking boots “made in Switzerland”, signing autographs in a crowd and greeting the locals, or sweating through open training sessions in preparation for the fight.

The subtle magic of Bachmann’s photos can be seen in the book “Muhammed Ali, Zurich, 26.12.1971”, from Edition Patrick FreyExternal link.

(Photos: Eric Bachmann; Text: Renat Kuenzi,

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR