…by Anura Guruge
Related post: London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE Muhammad Ali fan. I adore the man. I first came to the U.S. in 1967. He, then Cassius Clay, was very much in the news. He was iconic. He was brilliant. As with so many of my age, boxing was synonymous with him. He is one of my very few non-cricketer sporting heroes, Nadal, Ashe, Gareth Edwards, J.P. R. Williams and Jean-Claude Killy probably being the others (I having worn a red cap that said ‘Killy’ on it for nearly 20 years of my skiing life).
I cried when Ali appeared at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to light the flame.
I still cry when I see that clip. To me that was one of the greatest of Olympic moments.
The World should always remember Ali and the Olympics in terms of his historic win in Rome in 1960 and Atlanta in 1996. Period.
Having ‘Muhammad Ali’ appear towards the end of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, to symbolically touch the Olympic flag, was unnecessary, out-of-context, stupid and above all a HUGE DOWNER.
I did NOT recognize Ali. Check the video above.
When I was told it was Ali, I was shocked, depressed and embarrassed.
To make it worse, some NBC ‘twittering-head’ idiot was twerping away about it being the ‘unmistakable Muhammad Ali‘!
That was a HUGE mistake.
That was NOT my Muhammad Ali. To see the wheelchair behind him was sad; my mother too had Parkinson’s but died before she got to that stage of infirmity.
Poor Ali. He had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.
The 8 august flag carriers looked palpably uncomfortable. One, I think it was the ‘charitable’ lady from Brazil, gave Ali’s arm a squeeze as she left.
What were they thinking?
This was the second embarrassing faux pas of the Ceremony — ignoring the Empire was the other.
I have listened to the Americans rave about the director Danny Boyle. Most know him from Slumdog Millionaire. If you remember that, it had some strange, even gruesome scenes. I bet most of the twits on NBC have never seen Trainspotting, his first movie. That was one heck of a strange and dark movie. To me the Opening Ceremony was like Trainspotting.
There was ABSOLUTELY NO need to have Muhammad Ali there. He has no real connection with London, other than getting knocked down there, for the first time in his life, by Henry Cooper.
So was this AN INSIDER JOKE on poor Ali and the Americans? Bring Ali to London, those of us who were there will know that this was his first fall. Boyle sure is capable of cruelty such as that.
This was wrong. I am furious. We as Brits are better than this. Muhammad Ali is and will be one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. He was A MAN.
I really want to forget that stupid moment. Let us remember Muhammad Ali from the glory of 1996.