Flip Schulke - Photographs New York Friday, April 5, 2024 | Phillips
  • Flip Schulke made his most famous image in 1961. He was anxious to photograph the young up-and-coming boxer Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali). Clay, too, was anxious to be photographed and have his images in a national magazine. Knowing that Schulke had had success photographing water sports from under the water, Clay invited the photographer to shoot him while he trained in a pool, claiming that punching under water was as effective as training with weights. Schulke made a series of photographs of the boxer flexing, punching, and training in a hotel swimming pool, and these were published in the 8 September 1961, issue of LIFE magazine.  Interestingly, this image, the most famous of the series, was not illustrated. It was only later that Schulke found out that Clay did not typically train in a swimming pool and, in fact, did not know how to swim. Clay’s ambition was so strong that he created the ruse so that he could be shot by a famous photographer and get his image published. 

    • Literature

      'A Wet Way to Train for a Fight,' LIFE, September 1961, p. 123
      Schulke & Schudel, Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend, cover


Ali Underwater

Gelatin silver print, printed later, mounted.
60 x 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm)
Signed by Donna Schulke and Gary Truman, the photographer’s widow and archivist, respectively, in ink on a gallery Certificate of Authenticity and an edition certificate affixed to the reverse of the frame. Number 81 from an edition of 99.

Full Cataloguing

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $21,590

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 5 April 2024