Boxers Re-united for Ali exhibition
FORMER British middleweights Michael Watson, Rod Douglas and Oliver Wilson were boxers reunited at the Paralympic private view of a Muhammad Ali photographic exhibition currently being staged in London’s East End.
Watson was the guest of honour at the Paralympic opening of the In the Rings with Ali exhibition which draws together some of the most iconic images of the greatest sportsman of the 20th Century.
Watson and Douglas suffered career-ending injuries after brutal title fights more than 20 years ago. Both have astounded doctors by the scale of their recovery. Wilson, meanwhile, is using boxing to keep disaffected youngsters on the straight and narrow.
All three came together at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, situated just 100 metres from the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, for the Paralympic private view and Watson was keen to throw his support behind Wilson’s efforts.
“I’m here to support this project and what Ollie Wilson and his team are doing for the young people of tomorrow. It’s important to safeguard our tomorrows and we do that by looking after our young people,” he said.
Wilson, a former southern area light middleweight and middleweight champion, was part of the Mickey Duff/Terry Lawless stable in the 1980’s, together with Watson.
Together with Douglas, they all trained in the East End.
Now Wilson is using the Ali exhibition and his own “Ultimate School Contender” to improve students’ attitudes towards education and society, a programme which Watson has agreed to become patron of.
The Ali exhibition, which runs until September 30, consists of 70 pictures taken by some of the world’s finest sports photographers of the past 50 years, together with video installations, poetry and memorabilia.
The show has been pulled together by Christina Jansen, who includes some of her own work, taken when Ali visited England in the mid-1980’s. Sandra Higgins is co-curator.
Jansen said: “The likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Watson and Rod Douglas have all shown great courage in their respective fights against injury and illness. As the Paralympics start, the world will see more of that kind of courage in the coming weeks.”
“We are delighted that this show will be running so close to the stadium throughout the Paralympics and beyond and we are grateful Michael Watson could open the show for us.”
In the Rings with Ali runs on Thursdays and Fridays (5-9pm) and Saturdays and Sunday (Noon-5pm) until September 30 at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Stour Road, E3 2NT. Website: http://www.in-the-rings-with-ali.com .
Private viewings are available by special arrangement by contacting the gallery.
Picture Captions: MEN IN THE MIDDLE: Former British middleweights Oliver Wilson (left), Michael Watson (centre) and Rod Douglas at the Paralympic Private View of the In the Rings with Ali exhibition.