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05-06-2016

I love to think of him up there, generous, strong, fighting, like he always did, for a better world.

The news of the loss of Muhammad Ali leaves me and my family shocked and deeply grieved. With his death, we lose a real hero, a universal icon of courage and civil engagement, one of the crucial figures of our days.

Together with Veronica, my children and the entire staff of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, with the heart full of sadness and gratitude, we wish to express our sincere condolences and ideally get closer to Lonnie, to his sons and daughters and to the whole family of the great Muhammad. His memory will live, not only in school books and in the heart of those who loved him, but also in the eyes of the world, for he contributed to make the world a better place, where to live in peace and fraternity.

Some years ago, life gave me the privilege to meet him and, after, to be able to call me his friend, and follow him on the ring since ever, with passion and admiration. To meet him has been a dream come true. I remember that, together with a mutual friend, Jimmy Walker, I went to his house, unexpected guest, on the occasion of his wife Lonnie’s birthday. When I had in front of me that irreducible athlete, that man exhausted, but not bowed by the disease, Ali broke a silence that – I was told later – had lasted for days, in front of the astonished faces of the participants, asking me a prayer (“sing for me”, he said) that with joy I could honor, dedicating him an Italian melody a cappella, with my voice breaking with emotion. On that occasion, Muhammad gave me two of his own boxing gloves, autographed, that I keep like a relic.

The next day, in front of the Phoenix arena packed with spectators, in the front row there was Muhammad, I came out wearing those boxing gloves and I paid homage to him, while the final notes of the “Nessun dorma” were resounding. Nothing more appropriate, I thought, than to greet the great warrior with that aria closed by the verb “vincerò” repeated three times and able to tell, at all latitudes, of a state of mind characterized by burning passion and by inexhaustible will power, just like the personality of the invincible champion that was in front of me.

Ali is a myth, not only for his own one, but for at least three generations, he is a man who has been able to make people feel his strong opposition to war and violence. Universal icon of courage and civil engagement, he never stopped to be on the ring, until the end, facing his battle against Parkinson’s Disease. Thanks to Muhammad, at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, there is a center of excellence, among the most advanced, dedicated to the treatment of the Parkinson’s disease. Thanks to the support of Celebrity Fight Night and of its inventor, Jimmy Walker, the “Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center – Movement Disorder Clinic” offers practical help to those who are suffering and cannot afford medicines and cures, and to their families.

The entire world mourns his death, and prays for Muhammad, for his enlightened soul, whishing that he can continue his path in peace, free from a tired body, and that he can be everywhere, and everywhere he can continue to inspire us.

I love to think of him up there, generous, strong, fighting, like he always did, for a better world.

Andrea Bocelli

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Credits

Creative Director Stefano Scozzese
Supervisor Massimiliano Ballanti
Career Contents Renate Bausch
Photographers Giovanni De Sandre, Luca Rossetti, Fabian Hochscheid
Video Contents Strani Rumori Studio
Reportages and Opera contents Giorgio De Martino
Special Thanks Sugar Music
Official Fanclub www.bocelli.de
Official Community www.andreabocelli.us

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