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Muhammad Ali poses with his fists, raised one last time

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British photographer Zenon Texeira, narrates the story behind the last shoot of the three-time heavyweight boxing champion.

Texeira recently revealed the boxing legend Muhammad Ali had lost none of his fighting spirits at all.

Ali, 74, was frail that he had to be helped into a chair during the shoot in Phoenix, Arizona. His historic pictures showing defiant Ali, just weeks before his death, have never been published before.

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The last official portrait of ‘The Greatest Boxer’

The pictures show how Ali refused to give in to Parkinson’s disease. He even managed a playful smile during his last ever series of official portraits.

“It is the proudest moment for me,” Texeira said, adding, “Muhammad Ali means a lot to so many people all over the world. His legacy will never be forgotten.”

He narrates, “It’s Friday evening and I’m in the office trying to justify the gamble of catching an early morning flight to Phoenix, Arizona, to capture the portrait of the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali.

“Arriving there on Saturday evening gave me a chance to Google the Champ and refreshes myself on his life in and out of the ring.

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“I go to sleep past midnight knowing I’ll have time to prepare before our scheduled 2pm shoot.

“I can’t sleep and I’m in bed, laptop by my side with a muted TV screen lighting up the room.”

“Now and then my laptop pings with the arrival of a message. An email arrives and requests my attendance at 2pm that afternoon.”

“Twenty minutes later our hero arrives. His skin glistens and he is meticulously groomed with cool dark sunglasses hiding his eyes.”

“The Champ was feeling well and rested, dressed in a dark shirt as I requested,” Texeira said.

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“He is helped into an armchair and it’s clear to see how fragile this man has become. However, I am told that even though he may not respond he understands every word.”

“I do what I have to do and 45 minutes later wrap the shoot, over the moon with what I have captured.”

“I hold his hand, thank him, tell him that I’ll pray for him and kiss his forehead as I say goodbye.”

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Ali died on June 4, hours after he was rushed to a hospital from his home. The superstar was ‘extremely unwell’ for weeks and the cause of death was a septic shock.

Ali converted to Islam and was a member of the religious organisation the Nation of Islam. According to Ali’s beliefs, his burial will be led by an imam and conducted under Muslim rites.

The importance of Ali goes beyond boxing. It embeds itself in the chaotic times in the 60s, when the boxer refused military service in Vietnam and called for the equality of all people regardless of religion, social status and skin colour.

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