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JEFF BROOMES: Remembering Tony, Ali with pride


JEFF BROOMES

JEFF BROOMES: Remembering Tony, Ali with pride

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AS A PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENT doing arithmetic, I was taught that if you borrow you must pay back. 

In life, we accept that one only borrows to improve his current situation. If that loan is used wisely, paying back should not be hurtful but should be done with pride and in celebration.

More than 70 years ago, our world was allowed to borrow two shining gems from the pantheon that adorned the excellence of heaven. Over the past few weeks we were forced to repay our loan and both Tony Cozier and Muhammad Ali were recalled to their place of glory.

Try as we might, celebration was not easy.

The pain of loss has cut deep, and we know that despite their immense contributions, we are now the poorer. They gave more than we could have hoped in many more ways than any could have imagined.

They were so impactful in their expansive contributions that people worldwide had come to see them as ours. Now, as we accept our time of repayment, a definite emptiness has engulfed us as individuals and as a world that has been transformed as a result of their journey here.

Tony Cozier was loaned to us as a journalist and commentator, but this was the minor part of him. These were just allowed to be the stage on which he could manifest his immense quality. Although he stood like a colossus in those areas, his outreach was far greater and more touching.

He was an artist of the highest quality encapsulating both Shakespeare and Picasso.

As he wrote and spoke, his command of the literary techniques and skills were of the highest class. Though he was many miles away, he was able to paint a picture of clarity.

Tony Cozier was a human being who saw his role as helping all with whom he interacted. There are so many persons who were made better and whose careers thrived simply from his assistance. I personally thank him for taking the many calls that I made to his home at night to seek his answers to solve one rum shop cricket argument or another.

This iconic individual was fearless.

He spoke from the head with intellect and from the heart with high integrity. As such, he was able to speak openly and directly even to those who disagreed with his positions which he gave honestly and without rancour. A gentleman!

We as a people were allowed to borrow MuhammadAli at a time when there was a need to lift the sport of boxing. He did it with flair and panache but here again this was just the field in which his variety of fruit and vegetables were to be sown and reaped. The harvest was infinitely greater than what was planted.

If a hero is defined as one who meets and overcomes challenge and sacrifice in defence of values and integrity, Muhammad Ali was the quintessential hero of this or any era. This individual fought against all odds and was led by principle earning the tag as the most controversial sportsman of his generation.

He stood firm in defence of civil rights. After returning home from winning an Olympic gold medal and being denied entry into a whites only facility because of his skin colour, he expressed his character by throwing the medal into the Ohio River. He also removed himself from a golf club that refused entry to Jews.

He was principled and focused on human rights, turning his back on a war for which he was drafted and which he thought was unjust. For this, he was denied his right to earn a living in his chosen field while in his prime. One can only wonder how great a boxer this three-time heavyweight champion could have become.

Despite his many struggles he became a benevolent, altruistic individual who never saw a need that he did not try to satisfy. 

Muhammad Ali and Tony Cozier, we remember you with pride.

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]

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