by Fakir Ayaz

I was only one of millions of people that watched mesmerised the farewell to Muhammad Ali. The greatest boxer that ever lived. I had the pleasure of meeting him long long ago, and even though he was already suffering from Alzheimer disease, a cruel vicious disease that reduces a man to a shadow of himself, fumbling with little control of his hands. A truly pitiful sight. A lesson for all of how one can be so powerful, with sharp reflexes, faster than anyone else in the ring, and claim to be the greatest, yet be reduced to fumbling and bumbling - no longer the greatest. That title cannot be given to anyone here, and only belongs to Allah. To lay claim to it is to invite trouble. Christopher Reeves was another, the actor who played superman - reduced to a life of a paralysed vegetable unable to move. Maybe he had in some mistaken moment considered himself to be truly super. Well he learned a horrific lesson, one from which he never recovered. Perhaps it is wiser to not challenge God, and stay human and safe, keeping all your wits about you.

The whole farewell was orchestrated beautifully without being maudlin. The Hollywood touch was ever present. The grieving widow Lonnie was exquisitely dressed, and her lighting was perfect, with just not enough light for a sharp view, but enough lighting for the heightened shadows to add to the drama of the occasion. And drama there was, it was the US at its brilliant best. 

Lonnie, Ali’s wife spoke her piece from memory, word perfect without a flub.

His life and times were played over, to an appreciative audience, worldwide, watched by millions. In a country like Pakistan there were many that stayed awake till 3am to watch the ceremony live. Similarly India,Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ali had a following everywhere. That was the magic of the man. The most recognised face on the planet. 

It was this superstar quality that endeared him to us, and grieved for him in his farewell. If ever there was a man heaven bound, this was he.

I did not envy him being an American, and a foreigner. He belonged to all of us, even Pakistanis. He belonged to the world. 

He has left a void, which no one can fill. Ali has left us memories, all available on tape. To be watched over and over. In his farewell, his wife Lonnie has done a superb job in giving him a send off which will be watched many times like his fights.