A Multimedia Presentation of
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Introduction by Neil Leifer

For the last 42 years, I’ve used my camera as a way into the most amazing events and places on six continents. From the earliest photo in this book, of Alan Ameche plunging over the goal line at Yankee Stadium to win the 1958 NFL Championship game for the Baltimore Colts, to the most recent, the three photographs in this book which were taken at the Sydney Olympics in September 2000, my camera has been my ticket and my passport around the world.

I’ve been to the Forbidden City in Beijing, and to the heart of the African bush in Kenya. I talked face-to-face with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, and with Charles Manson in a prison cell in California. I flew with a formation of F-18 marine jet fighters over the burning oil fields of Kuwait, and I smoked a cigar with Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba. In fact, I even got my picture taken while Castro was lighting my Cohiba for me. In most of those places, my camera got me somewhere that no amount of money could have ever gotten me. My Nikon F was truly my passport to anywhere I could have dreamed of going.

And for a kid who grew up loving sports, my camera has also given me the best seat in the house at some of the biggest sports moments of the last 40-plus years. I’ve been to dozens of World Series games, hundreds of pro and college football games and 15 Olympics (eight Summer, seven Winter). I’ve actually lost track of how many major golf tournaments and Kentucky Derbies I’ve covered, and of course, I got to see almost every major boxing match. I was on the sidelines when the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl I in 1967, and at the finish line and in the winner’s circle at all three races when Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973. I shot Pele being carried off the field in Mexcio City after Brazil won the 1970 World Cup. Once I understood how valuable my very special “passport” was, I set out to make sure that it got plenty of stamps. I’ve used it to get up close and personal with wonderful subjects like skier Billy Kidd and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, both of whom have become good friends.

Lou Gehrig, in his farewell speech, said he was “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” As I look at the pictures in this book, I understand a little bit of how Gehrig must have felt. The following pictures are, I think, my “best;” although some of them, I have to admit, are just my personal favorites. If you enjoy looking at them half as much as I enjoyed taking them, I’ll know that I’ve done my job well.

Video Interview
with Neil Leifer

Camera: Dirck Halstead

To watch these video clips, you will need
the Free Real Player or Quicktime Player.

Intro, getting hooked on photography.
Getting published in Sports Illustrated, while still
in high school: "It was the great thrill of my life."
"I had no idea this was a business...
It's a lot harder today than it was then."
"An assignment is what dictates a style."
On getting assigned to Cassius Clay in 1963.
Working for SI: "A dream come true."
Dealing with athletes' managers and agents.
Directing his first feature film.
"I've done four or five pictures that people will remember."
Using the older lenses and cameras.
"I was never a war photographer,
but I loved military hardware."
"These F-18's, they come flying in like toys."
One last wish.

The Best of Leifer
The Best of Leifer
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