Maybe this particular post I’m doing reminds me of something I may have been asked (and would have liked) to write back at high school.
I was sad when I heard the news of Muhammad Ali. There was a great collection of the 25 best photos of the Champ on the Guardian’s news site. When I was looking through them I felt a touch of sadness but as I looked through each photo I also smiled.
The Champ had been suffering from Parkinson’s since his forties and over time his health had deteriorated. There’s a profound sadness that a man who, once upon a time, could move like a ballet dancer had become a prisoner within his own body. You didn’t need to like or follow boxing to sympathize or be reminded of how fragile and human we are.
When I looked through those photos I forgot about the frail old man that was finally at rest and I saw a young man in his prime: Beautiful, callow; a man that would become a force of nature, unbowed. All that confidence and possibility open to him – something that the young have so much in abundence. It’s not like the old don’t have those same possibilities – they do… but I truly think you’ll never have them so immediate as you are when you’re young.
I’m going to grow old one day and maybe I’ll be alone and perhaps there’ll only be one or two marbles rolling around upstairs. I’ll sit in my chair and daydream that once upon a time I was a young man, strong and vibrant. There’ll be a tear in my eye but I’ll smile.
That’s what the Champ means to me.
He’s a reminder that once upon a time we were all beautiful, with that same wonder, that same spark, that touch of arrogance that can maybe only be forgiven when we’re young. He was a reminder that, even at old age, we can still be strong and we can still be beautiful.
The greatest of all time. Rest in peace Champ.
That first photo at the very top (The one in the changing room): It’s one of my favourites. A private moment. I think we all have moments like this when we’re alone.
I thoroughly recommend you visit the Guardian’s set of photos and take a look at those pictures in the link below. Some of them are wonderful and really well captioned.