The Greatest


© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

I have started this blog ten times and ten times I could not write it, I could not see it, and I could not feel it. It just didn’t work. In 1971, I scalped a ticket for the first Ali-Frazier fight. In 1974, I had a credential for upstairs but was thrown out and then had to move around the Garden every half round from one vomitorium to another. (Yes, it’s a vomitorium.) I would love to tell you that Ali was a very close friend of mine, but if I did that then I would be lying. I photographed him three or four times. I ran into him in Vegas and Atlantic City. One time I met him with Bert Sugar and he went right past Bert and said, “Hey Joe D., how are you?” just to tick off the Bertster. Like many great people, Ali transcended all boxing, sports, religion. Conscientious objector, the man had amazing intellect, speed of hand and eye,  and a huge heart. He was absolutely the greatest and still is. I called Bert 17 years ago and asked him if we could call Ali to call to my son’s fourth grade class. Bert said, “Let me see what I can do.” Sure enough, he got Ali to call. Amazing stuff, amazing memories. I will miss him and the world will miss him, too. I guess he’s going to have a field day with Angelo Dundee, Bert Sugar, Budd Schulberg, and Joe Frazier. They won’t be drinking (okay, except for Bert and Budd) but they will be talking boxing. I wish I was a fly on the wall in heaven. You know what I find interesting? I laughed when he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. After that initial giggle, I never gave it another thought.  I hope that makes sense. Rest in peace, Muhammad.

Please see the video (linked below) by an old friend of mine from Sports Illustrated, Bill Nack- it says it all. He’s a professional writer, I am not.

Angelo Dundee © Joe DiMaggio

Angelo Dundee © Joe DiMaggio

Bert Sugar © Joe DiMaggio

Bert Sugar © Joe DiMaggio

Budd Schulberg © Joe DiMaggio

Budd Schulberg © Joe DiMaggio

Joe Frazier © Joe DiMaggio

Joe Frazier © Joe DiMaggio





It Never Snows in Amalfi

Hi to all the Ships at Sea,


Both JoAnne and I are putting together the cover art for our new, exciting, travel adventure, photographic DVD. Yes, I am the King of the run-on sentence, sorry. The above photo JoAnne took of me with one of my students in Amalfi, which is helping the photographer re-think the options that he may have. Let’s remember one thing, when I’m teaching a workshop, when I’m giving a lecture on a TV show/internet TV show, what you’re getting is my opinion, it is not necessarily a fact and it is not cast in bronze, brass or gold, it’s just my opinion. Because I am one the luckiest people in the world, my opinion has been formed with the knowledge of some of the greatest photographers in the world, W. Gene Smith, Carl Mydans, Alfred Eisenstaedt, John Dominis, Irving Penn and the list goes on and on. I believe artists, regardless of the medium, whether it be oil ,watercolor, pen and ink, poetry, a novel the blues or the jazz, no one goes out with the idea of copying someone else. But “OUR” ability to learn from each other is critical, it’s simple communication. It’s really not about F-stops and apertures. It’s really how we see, what we see, what we look for-and then go to the next level. You can think of photography, videography and filmmaking as probably the most important thing in the world of communication. And oh my God, let’s not forget the Ernest Hemingway’s, the Budd Schulberg’s, the Elia Kazan’s, the Al Maysles. For most of us it will just be plain fun and in this complicated, sometimes bizarre world, fun and a light moment may just keep us alive a bit longer. This blog started out very light and airy and I have no idea how it got so serious.

Health and Happiness to Everyone, Great Shooting.
Joe D

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Birthday. The Bertster.

Everyday of our lives, is an important day. Six months ago I made a decision to teach a work shop at Gleason’s Gym. When my studio manager reminded me that it was my birthday I said great. I consider work a privilege and what better to do then teach photography at Glesons’ Gym. Its just does not get better then that. I knew it was going to a very special and an amazing eclectic group. From Brazil, Chili, Colombia, England, Norway, and all over the east coast. A great balance between men and women, and great help from JoAnne Kalish, Larry Malang, Peter Poremba. It was a hell of a great day. Life is funny, I was on a great natural high, and I got back to the studio. Did not check my voice mail, did not check my email, downloaded the cards, checked facebook. I don’t check it that often and I find one of my close friend died of a heart attack. It was Bert Sugar. On Wednesday, I called Bert, he answered me as usual “Uncle Joe.” I always call him the “Bertster”. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said” I have lung cancer, and have internal bleeding but that’s not the problem.” Then I asked him what the big problem was? He said, “I have F@$!#ing terminal acne.” Thats the Bertster, no matter what the dialogue is he always finds humor in it. He was loved by millions, hated by thousands, he was a true Damon Runyon character and a great friend. I will miss him, yes I will miss him… Off the record, he suffered “Cuttysheimers”, his words not mine. RIP Bert Sugar.

                                 Bert Sugar, Playwright Budd Schulberg, and son Benn Schulberg

                                                           Bert Sugar

                                            Captain Lou Albano, Bert Sugar

Bert Randolph Sugar at his finest at Gleasons’

All photos copyright Joe DiMaggio

Angelo Dundee: A Dear Friend.

The first rule you learn in journalism is to stay totally objective and never become close to the person you’re photographing or writing about. It isn’t an easy thing to do. In the case of Angelo Dundee, it was absolutely impossible. I met Angelo back in the 70’s and did major stories on him for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Ring… too many to mention.

I think anyone who’s been around boxing can tell you there’s a dark side, and at some point everybody either goes there or experiences it. Angelo Dundee never had a dark side. He is the epitome of sportsmanship, a true gentleman, and the ultimate motivator. He was the total package. One of the most gentle people God put on this planet. He made a perfect ambassador for the sport of boxing. I met several hundred people in boxing over the years, from the very top to the very bottom and never heard one bad word against Angelo. Whether it was Budd Schulberg, Bert Sugar, or a journeyman fighter in Mississippi, they all loved him. Angie treated everybody like they were an important person. He never forgot a name and he had that beautiful smile and those beautiful eyes. He was always warm and attentive. Did I mention his sense of humor?

Here’s an Angelo quote sent to me today from one of my students, Steve Ellis:

“Joe, just want to tell you how much your call meant to me. Really nice gesture.

I was sorry to see the news about Angelo. He seemed like a really interesting guy. I remember when he was a commentator during the ’88 Olympics. During one of Riddick Bowe’s fights he was really critical about all the obvious mistakes Bowe was making. Angelo said ‘If this kid’s lucky, he’ll have a spasm of lucidity.’ I always remember that expression.


Anyone who knows me knows that I can go on and on. I’m going to bring this blog to an end and I will revisit Angie and his memory at a later date. One of my last experiences with him is when he was kind enough to give me a few hours of his time for an interview for my documentary In this Corner.

P.S. In an interview I did with Jake LaMotta, “The Raging Bull”, he told me that he gave this kid Dundee one of his first jobs.

I can see Angie with a water bottle and a towel, cooling down Saint Peter as he’s entering the pearly gates. Rest in Peace, my friend. You’ve got a lot of champions on the other side.