A 30-second online art project:

Peter Burr, Sunshine Monument

Learn more

Learn more at

Skip to main content

Gordon Parks

Bandaged Hands, Muhammad Ali

Not on view



Gelatin silver print

Overall: 13 5/16 × 9 1/4in. (33.8 × 23.5 cm)

Accession number


Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, The Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund at The Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc., and Michèle Gerber Klein

Rights and reproductions
Courtesy of and © The Gordon Parks Foundation


Taken by Gordon Parks for a Life magazine spread on Muhammad Ali, this photograph captures the legendary boxer just after his successful 1966 heavyweight title defense over Henry Cooper in London. This image is characteristic of Parks’s documentary approach. Seated with his head bowed and his hands bandaged, Ali appears as a mythic figure, simultaneously battle-worn and composed. This heroic depiction may reflect Ali’s activities outside of the ring as much as his victories as a boxer. Around the time of the photograph, he was making headlines for his refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War, an action which made him a hero to some and a villain to others. Further, as a member of the Nation of Islam, Ali had, two years earlier, sparked public controversy by changing his name from Cassius Clay. Following Ali’s match with Henry Cooper, Parks wrote: “In London I witnessed the destruction of Cooper. Afterward at a press conference, Ali said, ‘Now that I have done what I came here to do, I’m going back home.’ Home. He said it in a way that rang softly of contrition. A new and great black hero was slowly emerging.”