Muhammad Ali (F. & S. II.182) depicts the famous boxer Muhammad Ali in a headshot with fist raised. Ali’s penetrative gaze stares out, heightened by Warhol’s overdrawing and outline. A yellow background with purple and white accents frame his face to the left. His raised fist both evokes the champion fighter he was and at the same time Rodin’s Thinker, recalling Ali’s thoughtful commitment to the nation of Islam.
Warhol produced this portrait of Ali for the larger series Muhammad Ali. As it is the only image depicting both the boxer's face and fists, this image is unique in the series. Warhol photographed the icon in 1977 for Richard Weisman. The series depicting Ali reflects Warhol’s interest in fame across his career. As the artist himself said, “I really got to love the athletes because they are the really big stars.” In his representation of Ali, Warhol continues his tradition of celebrity portraiture begun with his images of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Here, Warhol once again exhibits his knack for representing the zeitgeist by transitioning from movie stars to athletes. Muhammad Ali in particular proves to be as recognizable today as he was the day Warhol photographed him.