A MERSEYSIDE photographer famed for his work in sport, including his portraits of Muhammad Ali, has died.
John Dawes, described as “one of the greatest personalities in world football” by Sir Alex Ferguson, was 65.
The father-of-three from Southport had enjoyed an award-winning international career.
Starting at a Liverpool news agency after leaving school, he went on to work on national newspapers, including a role as chief sports photographer for the Daily Express, before going freelance.
His work spanned several World Cups and Olympic Games, as well as regular golf Opens, boxing matches, tennis tournaments and Grand Nationals.
But a career highlight was when he was personally invited to the Los Angeles home of legendary world champion boxer Muhammad Ali to shoot a series of intimate portraits.
Mr Dawes, who died on Friday, leaves his wife of 45 years Marian and children Brendan, Jack and Amanda, who paid tribute to her father, saying: “He was a legend”.
Born in Warrington, Mr Dawes began his career, aged 15, with Liverpool news agency Mercury and the now-defunct Weekly News.
His death brought tributes from former colleagues and contacts throughout the sports world.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson paid tribute to him as “one of the greatest personalities in world football.”
He said: “He was a terrific man who will be sorely missed.”
Liverpool Football Club also paid tribute, saying: “John was a larger than life character who was always great company and known throughout the game.”
Mr Dawes was able to maintain a high-profile international career without leaving his Merseyside base.
His portraits of Muhammad Ali, taken in 1981, show the boxer known as The Greatest of All Time relaxing at home, and even sparring good-naturedly with Mr Dawes.
Throughout the 1980s he worked closely with some of the biggest names in international sport, including the England football squad of the day.
Former colleague Terry Mealey said: “We started out together. He was very, very good at what he did.
“He was a very good news photographer, a good ideas man, and the quality of his sports photography was quickly noticed.
“His standards were consistently high at all times and it is just a shame he is gone.”
Mr Dawes’s funeral takes place at Holy Trinity Church on Hoghton Street in Southport tomorrow.
More of his portraits of Mohammed Ali can be seen at www.johndawespictures.com/