Neil Leifer became a professional photographer while still in his teens. Beginning in 1960 as a freelancer, his pictures began appearing regularly in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, Life, Newsweek, Time and most often, Sports Illustrated.
In 1972, Leifer became a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated. He left Sports Illustrated in 1978 and became a staff photographer for Time magazine. In 1988 he was made a contributing editor at Life magazine and spent the next two years dividing his time between Time and Life magazines. Leifer left Time, Inc. in 1990. By that time, his photographs had appeared on more than 200 Sports Illustrated, Time and People covers, the most covers ever published of one photographer's work in Time, Inc. history.
Leifer has published 9 books. His 1978 Abrams book "Sports", has been lauded by many as the best of its kind ever.
Neil Leifer has traveled all over the world on assignment. He has photographed 14 Olympic Games, 4 World Cup soccer finals, 15 Kentucky Derbies, countless World Series games, 10 Super Bowls and every important heavyweight title fight since Floyd Patterson beat Ingemar Johansson to regain the title in 1960. He has photographed his favorite subject, Muhammad Ali, on almost 60 different occasions - 35 fights and more than 20 photo sessions.While Neil Leifer now devotes his time to producing and directing films, there is always a very good chance you'll spot him ringside, camera in hand, at any big heavyweight championship bout.
"It's the one sport I still love shooting", he says.