The Greatest By: Karl Soderlund

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    • GP-0000988-01
    • 67
    • 87
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About

"Float like a butterfly sting like a bee, your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see"

No person accomplished what Muhammad Ali did for the sport of boxing. During a period of American transgression he not only was able to stand up against these issues but he was able to win the heavyweight championship an unprecedented three times and defeat every top boxer in his era. While he made a name for himself in the ring he was also known for his prematch hype (trash talk) of his opponents. These rhymes with an unorthodox fighting technique made him a sports icon. Many times in these rhymes he called the round that the fight would end - and it did.

It is said that after being refused service at a restaurant because of his race, Ali threw his 1960 Olympic Gold Medal into the Ohio river. Later he converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and set the stage for his next fight. In 1967 he refused to serve in the US Army during Vietnam because of his beliefs and was subsequently arrested and stripped of his boxing title. Over a period of three years he did not fight in the ring but took his case all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

Fighting Parkinson's disease since 1984, Ali has been highly involved in humanitarian endeavors around the globe. A messenger of peace for the United Nations and a Presidential Medal of Freedom are all part of his story. In 2005, The Muhammad Ali Center opened and focuses on Peace, Social Responsibility, Respect and Personal Growth.

In my paintings the subjects are iconic in who they are or what they represent.  However, the real story is what is revealed within the painting.  I use representational symbols to create scenes within paintings to tell the story of the subject.  Like a puzzle, the closer you look, the more symbols you will find.