Howard Bingham obituary

By Sean O'Hagan

Photographer who covered the 1960s race riots in the US and became a lifelong friend of Muhammad Ali

Howard Bingham, who has died aged 77, was a photographer who became Muhammad Ali's closest friend and shot perhaps a million of images of the fighter. “I think we became friends because I didn't want nothing from him,” Bingham said in 2004. “We just became friends, and we stayed friends.”

The pair met in 1962, when Bingham was sent by a local black newspaper to a press conference for a boxing match at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena between Cassius Clay, as Ali was known then, and George Logan. Afterwards, Clay was standing on a street corner with his brother when Bingham pulled up in his car and offered to show them round the city. The trip culminated with a visit to Bingham's family home, where his mother cooked them dinner. A friendship was born that lasted until Ali's death in June. “He was there for my father when my father had no one,” said the boxer's eldest son, also called Muhammad Ali. “When he lost all his money, his titles, Howard was the friend who was always in his corner.”

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