Neil Leifer’s photography career has spanned over 50 years since becoming a professional while still in his teens. Beginning in 1960, his pictures regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, LIFE, Newsweek, Time and, most often, Sports Illustrated.
Leifer eventually became a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated before leaving in 1978 for Time. In 1988 he was made a contributing photographer at LIFE and spent the next two years shooting for both Time and LIFE. When he left Time Inc. in 1990, his photographs had appeared on over 200 Sports Illustrated, Time, and People covers – then the most of one photographer's work ever published in Time Inc. history.
Neil Leifer is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Lucie Award for Achievement in Sports Photography. In 2008 he was honored for his outstanding contribution to Time Inc. journalism with The Britton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award. In December 2013 he was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, becoming the first photographer to ever be elected to a professional sports hall of fame.
Leifer has published 16 books, 9 of which have been collections of his sports photographs. His two most recent, Ballet in the Dirt and Guts and Glory – both published by TASCHEN, showcase the very best of his professional baseball and football photographs. He is currently working on his memoir Relentless which will be published in 2014.
Leifer has traveled all over the world on sports assignments. He has photographed 16 Olympic Games (7 winter and 9 summer), 4 FIFA World Cups, 15 Kentucky Derbies, countless World Series games, the first 12 Super Bowls and every important heavyweight title fight since Ingemar Johansson beat Floyd Patterson in 1959. He has photographed his favorite subject, Muhammad Ali, numerous times – covering 35 of his fights (including all the big ones) and over 30 one-on-one portrait sessions.
While Neil Leifer is now a full-time filmmaker, producer and director; there is a very good chance that you'll spot him, camera in hand, at any big championship fight. "Boxing,” says Leifer, “is the one sport I still love shooting."