The Texas Program in Sports and Media


Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism: Neil Leifer

April 24, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. in BMC 2.106

the photography career of Neil Leifer has spanned over 50 years since becoming a professional while still in his teens. Beginning in 1960, his pictures regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, LIFE, Newsweek, Time and, most often, Sports Illustrated.

Leifer eventually became a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated before leaving in 1978 to become a staffer for Time magazine. In 1988 he was made a contributing photographer at LIFE magazine and spent the next two years dividing his time between Time and LIFE. When Leifer left Time Inc. in 1990, his photographs had appeared on over 200 Sports Illustrated, Time, and People covers—at that point, the most ever published of one photographer's work in Time Inc. history. Neil Leifer is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Lucie award for Achievement in Sports Photography. In 2008 he was honored for his outstanding contribution to Time Inc. journalism with The Britton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award. In December 2013 Leifer was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is the first photographer to ever be elected in a professional sports Hall of Fame.

Leifer has published 16 books, 9 of which have been collections of his sports photographs. His two most recent, Ballet in the Dirt and Guts and Glory—both published by TASCHEN, showcase the very best of Leifer’s professional baseball and football photographs. Leifer is currently working on his memoir “Relentless” which will be published in 2014.

Leifer has traveled all over the world on sports assignments. He has photographed 16 Olympic Games (7 winter and 9 summer), 4 FIFA World Cups, 15 Kentucky Derbies, countless World Series games, the first 12 Super Bowls and every important heavyweight title fight since Ingemar Johansson beat Floyd Patterson in 1959. He has photographed his favorite subject, Muhammad Ali, on almost 60 different occasions—covering his biggest fights and over 30 one-on-one studio sessions.

While Neil Leifer is now a full-time filmmaker, producer and director; there is a very good chance that you'll spot him, camera in hand, at any big championship fight. "Boxing” says Leifer “is the one sport I still love shooting."

The event is free and open to both the university community and general public. Anyone who requires an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Christopher Hart, who can be reached at 512-471-2431, no later than five (5) business days prior to the event.

Join the community

TPSM is developing a local community of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students with an interest in sports, media and society. The emerging field is broad and deep, replete with questions and issues that require a diverse and interdisciplinary community of scholars to address in a meaningful manner.

TPSM posits that:

  • Sport precipitates beneficial social change and economic development.
  • Media stimulate human engagement and inter-connection.

Sports and media are two sides of a common coin, revealing (for better or worse) human nature, culture and community in a manner that no other aspect of society can touch. TPSM engages these issues at UT-Austin by supporting curriculum, research and programming within the related disciplines of the College of Communication: Advertising/Public Relations, Journalism, Radio-Television-Film and Communication Studies. TPSM also supports an interdisciplinary discourse across campus with departments and faculty that share an appreciation of stories from sports.

In addition to this website, TPSM maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter stream to stimulate and sustain this dialogue. If you would like information pushed out to you, please join our email group for the latest on curriculum, programming and research initiatives.