Muhammad Ali’s Boxing Secret Involved Regular Training Underwater: Hoax


Picture Suggesting Muhammad Ali's Boxing Secret Involved Regular Training Underwater
Muhammad Ali's Boxing Secret Involved Regular Training Underwater

Story: 

Muhammad Ali, the famous American boxer’s secret training routine involved a regular strenuous underwater workout.

Other Versions

1961 – Muhammad Ali Training Underwater in Miami

Analysis:

According to a popular legend, one of the secrets of the famous American Boxer Muhammad Ali is that he regularly trained underwater; one picture is often suggested to show him training underwater in Miami in 1961. Although the picture is genuine, the claims that Muhammad Ali’s (named Cassius Clay earlier) routine involved a regular strenuous workout underwater are not facts.

Picture of Muhammad Ali with Photographer Flip Schulke
Muhammad Ali with Photographer Flip Schulke
Picture of Photographer Flip Schulke
Photographer Flip Schulke

Back in 1960 Flip Schulke, a photojournalist who pioneered in underwater photography was introduced to 19 year old young boxer Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). Ali confided to Schulke that his secret boxing training routine involved a strenuous underwater workout, suggested by an old trainer up in Louisville, who mentioned the water resistance acts just like a weight. Ali added that he would allow Schulke to photograph him if he can guarantee that his pictures shall appear in LIFE magazine. Schulke got the permission and the photo session went on (see pictures in Image Gallery). Some Flip Schulke’s photographs of Muhammad Ali were published in the 8 September 1961 issue of Life magazine, in a photo essay titled ‘A Wet Way to Train for a Fight‘.

Picture of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Picture of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Picture of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali

Decades later, the photographer Flip Schulke said that Muhammad Ali confessed all that he told about underwater training was simply an elaborate trick on his part to get into the LIFE magazine. Note, LIFE ran the photo essay but did not select the popular picture that shows Ali posing as a boxer submerged entirely underwater (see pictures in Image Gallery). Ali and his trainer came up with the whole story. So the pictures and stories saying the famous boxer Muhammad Ali used to train underwater regularly, as a part of his secret routine are hoaxes. Schulke was nonetheless happy he was fooled, and said he was really proud of the whole thing and that Ali was a brilliant guy even at 19.

Picture of LIFE magazine
LIFE magazine
Screenshot of Photo essay in Life Magazine
Photo essay in Life Magazine
Screenshot of Photo essay in Life Magazine
Photo essay in Life Magazine

Hoax or Fact:

Hoax.

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References:

Ali Underwater – Limited edition photographs by Flip Schulke
The Year in Pictures: The Greatest


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Muhammad Ali’s Boxing Secret Involved Regular Training Underwater: Hoax