Upcoming HistoryMiami panel looks at Muhammad Ali in Miami and his iconic fight 50 years ago

Yadira Lopez
·2 min read

Muhammad’s Ali’s historic 1971 fight was about so much more than just boxing. That premise is the highlight of an upcoming HistoryMiami panel in honor of the fight’s 50th anniversary.

The free Zoom event is scheduled for Monday, March 8 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Registration is available online at historymiami.org.

The panel will discuss the museum’s ALI/MIA portfolio, featuring a series of rare photographs of Ali training in Miami before he faced Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden. The photographs are part of the exhibition “Muhammad Ali in Miami: Training for the ‘Fight of the Century’” currently on display at the museum through Aug. 29. The photographs were taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers Larry Spitzer and Jebb Harris of the Louisville Courier Journal.

“He was such a presence in Miami starting in the 60s,” said Jorge Zamanillo, executive director of HistoryMiami.

Ali owned property in Miami and some of the most iconic moments of his life and career took place here. He won the heavyweight championship here in 1964 and announced his conversion to Islam the very next day. It was here that he denounced the Vietnam War, a decision that ultimately cost him his title and boxing license.

“He was really molded here in this area,” said Zamanillo. But his fame did not make him immune to racism and segregation. He was often stopped by police on the jog across the causeway to the 5th Street Gym where he trained in Miami Beach.

“He was fighting the same racial inequities that are still going on today,” said Zamanillo. “We’re going to delve deeper into who Ali was as a person and how he dealt with those issues.”

Zamanillo will moderate the panel which includes local historian Marvin Dunn; boxing historian Ramiro Ortiz; Jebb Harris, former staff photographer at the Courier-Journal in Kentucky; and photographer Andrew Kaufman.