Thursday, December 29, 2016

New York Times Best Letters of 2016

My letter on Muhammad Ali was chosen by the Editor of the Letters Department of the New York Times as one of the best of 2016. I set forth the unedited version below. Hope you enjoy a second look (or a first) at this post:


He came to us as a curiosity and stayed as an icon who altered our landscape forever.

Far beyond the confines of a ring, Muhammad Ali was defined as a fighter with quick fists, quick wit and an indomitable spirit. He willingly forfeited riches, his crown and would have his freedom, if it had come to that, following the dictates of his religion and his heart. He might have arrived as part showman but he remained as a dedicated, serious ambassador for his beliefs.

Parkinson's may have sapped him of his most obvious strengths, making him a physical shadow of his earlier self and taking away much of the sound of his voice. But Ali's poetry was not limited to his outward beauty or rhymes. His was the heart of a lion, the will of David against Goliath, a life equal parts passion and compassion.

He was, for half a century, an American treasure. And he will forever remain one of the most influential voices of our time.

Born Cassius Clay, lived long as Muhammad Ali, died a legend and a hero to countless millions around the globe. Forever may he be recalled as one who was both butterfly and bee, a man filled with enduring beauty, grace and power.


Michael Gansl said...

So beautifully written. No wonder the NY Times considered it one of the bet Letters to the Editors in 2016!

Marcus (MV) said...

They only selected ONE of your letters as Best of the Year? They (not you) must be slipping!

Anonymous said...

No mystery why this letter was selected as among the best, it is a magnificent tribute. I never knew much about the man, but I listened on the radio to his fight against Sonny Liston because I was curious how all the pundits could predict that a man who had never lost a fight was going to get speedily demolished. Only fight I ever listened to, just not my kind of thing. I came away with a tiny treasure -- the metaphor the announcer used to describe the appearance of Cassius Clay as he climbed into the ring that night -- that his eyes were as big as doorknobs. Mine would have been too.

Thank you so much for sharing your treasures. I hope in 2017 you will have many more to share.


Robert said...

I wanted to thank everyone who has written to me regarding the selection of the Ali piece by the NY Times. I set forth a sampling of these comments:

What a thrill!
Yay!! That is so cool.
Great. Congrats, I've really liked it both times.
Congratulations. Well deserved (from 4 different writers)
Beautiful piece of writing.
Pretty Impressive!!
Congratulations for the much deserved honor. It was a pleasure reading once again such a beautifully written tribute to "The Greatest"
It is a beautiful tribute to him.

From me to the few who follow my writing (and to the many who don't), I wish you a happy and healthy New Year

Anonymous said...

You da man !

Jamie Buonocore said...

So proud of you Robert- you are a consummate writer.