Yesterday, I saw a picture of two men posing for a publicity shot.
One of them was David Beckham - smiling, clearly enjoying himself, holding his fists up as if to defend himself from the other subject of the picture. Fit and healthy, wearing a suit.
The other man was wearing a white shirt with blue stripes, and trousers with the belt just slightly higher than you'd expect. He had obviously bought the shirt some time ago, as he'd lost weight in the intervening time - Dark hairline receding, despite the fact that his hair remained absolutely ink-black. Eyes slightly wide, and mouth pursed, though whether for effect or through necessity, it isn't certain.
This is the picture:
This man is one of my heroes. Seeing him like this- so weak, so thin, so wasted - almost made me forget that he used to look like this:
To see a human being that was once the very peak of condition - the strongest, the fastest, the most brash, the most fearless - slowly fade away...is a terrible thing. The world will never see another man like Muhammad Ali, and it will truly be a sad day when he finally passes from this world; but I can't help but wonder if it would have been better if he'd died in that ring, still burning like the brilliant flame he was, instead of guttering out slowly like a tiny candle in a too-strong breeze.
Rumble, young man, rumble.