Chances are that you are going to remember where you were when you heard the news about the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali for quite some time. As arguably one of the greatest athletes of all-time, and a critical voice standing up against cultural and societal ills, Ali forged a sterling reputation throughout his life as a man of the people. He was a hero to many, and an example to us all.
While many heard about Ali finally succumbing to the Parkinson’s diseases that ravaged his body later in life through social media or by way of a friend, a select group were delivered the news in a more profound manner. Performing a concert in Berkeley, Calif., legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon was midway through his song “The Boxer” when he addressed the crowd.
“I’m sorry to tell you this way, but Muhammad Ali has passed away,” Simon said while still strumming his guitar. Those in the crowd let out an audible gasp. Simon allowed for a moment for them all to really grasp the news before launching into a dramatic, breathtaking rendition of the song’s final verse. The whole thing is more profound as you scan through the words.
“In the clearing stands a boxer / And a fighter by his trade / And he carries the reminders / Of ev’ry glove that laid him down / And cut him till he cried out / In his anger and his shame, / ‘I am leaving, I am leaving.’ / But the fighter still remains.”
It’d be hard to find a more moving, instant tribute to the three-time World Heavyweight champion than the one above.