Littleton photographer recalls capturing the 'Greatest of All Time'

Littleton photographer shot Muhammad Ali
Posted at 10:56 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 00:56:47-04

Like most photographers, Monty Nuss has shot thousands of pictures, but few can say they've captured the "Greatest of All Time."

"Just a special, special person," Nuss, owner of Monty Nuss Photography in Littleton, recalled.

In 1981, the then hobby photographer and his wife were asked to take pictures of Muhammad Ali during his three-day visit to Winter Park for the Special Olympics. The couple said they were first struck by the boxer's size.

"I was kind of overwhelmed by his height," Monty Nuss said.

But it was Ali's heart and love of magic they can't forget.

"He would spar with the kids, he would joke with the kids, he was just a gentle, gentle person," Monty Nuss said.

"He always showed us how he did the magic trick because he thought it was bad karma not to disclose how he did his magic tricks," Carole Nuss said.

The couple recalled how Ali insisted on talking to their children over the phone from Winter Park when they called to check in on them.

"To me that speaks volumes about who he was," Carole Nuss said.

Months later, the couple traveled to the Bahamas to photograph Ali's final professional fight of his career. The rookie photographer sat ringside snapping Ali as he fought Trevor Berbick.

"I think it was tragic for everybody, we all wanted him to win," Carole Nuss said.

The couple later visited Ali's bar in Louisville.  The legend remembered the couple and took a picture sparring with Monty out front.

The couple said as incredible as the fighter was in the ring, it's the battle he fought outside that left the mark of a giant.

"I think he tried to unite our country... and I think that was his huge legacy," Carole Nuss said.