Saturday, August 25, 2012

‘In the Rings with Ali’

Emdad Rahman

‘In the Rings with Ali’ is a retrospective exhibition to celebrate Muhammad Ali’s 70th year during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

During the Paralympic Games period guests have had exclusive access to an exhibition of photographs, memorabilia, audio and video installations, text and poetry celebrating Muhammad Ali's life achievements during his 70th year.

The show is the brainchild of Dutch photographer Christina Jansen, who photographed Ali in the 1980's and shared her experiences of 'The Greatest'.

Special guest and ex Champion boxer Michael Watson opened the pre Paralympics PV at Forman's Smokehouse Gallery. He said: “I’m here to support this project and what Ollie Wilson and his team are doing for the young people of tomorrow. It’s important to safeguard our tomorrows and we do that by looking after our young people.”

Ollie Wilson, ex British Light Middleweight, and a cohort of young people showcased Ultimate School Contender (USC), designed to improve students' attitudes towards education and society.  He said: “‘The Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme’ and 'The Ultimate School Contender ' programme, together with 'In the Ring's with Ali' exhibition will introduce a new generation to an iconic boxing legend and will also be a fitting legacy of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.”

Christina Jansen first met and photographed Ali in 1986. She lives in London, working as a portrait photographer in music, film and advertising. It has taken two years to bring together the leading world artists and photographers who are exhibiting at this event and get it off the ground. Christina is project leader of the venture.

Curated by Sandra Higgins, the exhibition features photographic works by Christina Jansen and other major photographers including Michael Gaffney, Sonia Katchian and Neil Kenlock. Muhammad Ali's brother Rahaman Ali has contributed paintings to the exhibition and attended the preview evening in July. Also on display is memorabilia relating to Ali's boxing career and in particular his success at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

The exhibition organizers and sponsors have teamed up with Ollie Wilson and Rod Douglas (British Light Middle Middleweight) to deliver “The Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme”, which will work with deserving young boxers from Holland and England. Together with Rahaman Ali (Muhammad Ali’s brother), young people from the local community presented a non-contact boxing extravaganza at the Private View on the 19th July and in Guildford the day after.

All artworks at the “In the Rings with Ali” exhibition will be for sale and a percentage of the profits will be donated to Amnesty International, Parkinson’s Research, and to a local boxing club in East London.

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