Elanga recreates one of the most iconic Ali pics

Friday 24 June 2022 10:33

Manchester United youngster Anthony Elanga has brilliantly recreated one of the most iconic photos in sporting history while recharging his batteries on holiday.

The fledgling Academy graduate became an established senior player last season and he is determined to kick on in 2022/23, under the tutelage of new manager Erik ten Hag. 

After playing in Sweden’s three Nations League fixtures earlier this month, Elanga is currently enjoying a well-earned summer break before reporting for pre-season training at Carrington. 

While relaxing in the pool, Anthony had some fun by replicating the underwater pose that boxing icon Muhammad Ali – then known as Cassius Clay - made world famous back in 1961.

What do you think of the likeness? Take a look below…

Ali’s now legendary picture was taken in a Miami swimming pool over 60 years ago by photographer Filip Schulke, who was inspired by the boxer revealing how his trainer had encouraged him to train underwater. The claim was that the resistance acted like a weight.

At the time, Clay was fresh from winning gold at the 1960 Olympics and had registered eight wins as a professional fighter. He wasn’t then the superstar that he became, but was nevertheless busy building his profile and, typically, he knew how to attract the media’s attention.

“Not to be bragging or anything like that,” said the teenage Ali at the time, “but they say I'm the fastest heavyweight in the ring today. That comes from punching under water.”
Writing in his 2003 book, Witness To Our Times, Schulke said he pitched the idea of an underwater shoot to Sports Illustrated magazine but was rejected, leading him to a rival publication. 

“When I called the editor at Sports Illustrated, he thought I was crazy for taking pictures of a boxer in a swimming pool,” he wrote. “So I called Life magazine, and they liked the idea. In those days, Life loved to beat out its sister publication on a story, so I went back to take pictures in the pool.”

During the eventual shoot, Schulke couldn't believe his luck when it all came together. “I turned around, and there he was, standing on the bottom of the pool," he wrote. 

"I mean, that's very hard to do, and he's in a perfect boxing pose. So I swam over real quick and I got about six pictures of him. He was holding his breath all this time and not making any movement.”
Muhammad Ali continues to inspire generations of athletes, including our own Anthony Elanga.

Three years after the iconic picture was taken, Schulke discovered the story of Ali training underwater wasn’t true and he had been led on by the charismatic, game-changing boxer. 

“We were looking through a scrapbook, and when he came across my underwater pictures he winked at me,” wrote the photographer. “I realised he had taken me. 

“I learned later he and his trainer had come up with the whole story on their own. He didn’t even know how to swim…. he fooled everybody - and it made fantastic pictures.”