If you look closely at the fans in the audience at the Sugar Ray Leonard-Donny Lalonde fight of 1988, you will see rock/folk/poet star Bob Dylan sat observing the action. Dylan, a big boxing fan, was friendly with Canada’s Lalonde, as was Mr. Zimmerman quite chummy with, for a time at least, Muhammad Ali and a few other champion pugilists.
Over his almost unimaginably productive career, Dylan has immortalised two prize fighters: Davey Moore – ‘Who Killed Davey Moore,’ from 1963, and Rubin Carter – ‘The Hurricane,’ from 1975. With all the agonising events that have befallen too many of today’s retired greats, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the songwriting master to pen another inspirational tune that somehow manages to uplift in spite of the almost cripplingly bad news?
So many of our boxing heroes have left us over the past few years/months, all at an untimely age: Rocky Lockridge, Pernell Whitaker, Bert Cooper, even the best of them all, Ali (three years ago now). Dylan was most moved to write about injustice, that of which afflicted Moore and Carter, and though there is no-one to blame for the deaths of the legends listed above (we hope anyway; investigations are ongoing with regards to the shocking death of “Sweet Pea”), surely Sir Bob could move his mind in the direction of these bravest of the brave and pay them the ultimate tribute.
There have been a few other notable song writers who have been moved to use boxers as their muse, but surely no-one ever did it better than Dylan (‘The Hurricane’ is an 8-minute, 33-second tour de force that moves a person, informs them also, far more than the movie of the same name ever manages to do). In this time of sadness, our lonely eyes turn to you, Bob Dylan.
Write a song, a musical masterpiece, about Whitaker, about Ali, about Arturo Gatti, about Hector Camacho, about Alexis Arguello, about Rocky Lockridge. No-one else seems up to the task.
You are still a boxing fan, aren’t you, Mr. Dylan?