October 23, 2007

Punching Up Chicago Pride

Last night was the opening ceremonies for the World Boxing Championships, an "exhilarating" event that was creative directed by my brother Andrew. My parents came up from Indiana, and Sloan and I and a bunch of other friends went to the Chicago Theater for the festivities.

The World Boxing Championships are Olympic qualifying events, and there were hundreds of boxers there from around the world, some of whom have never left their home countries. Andrew told me that it was a surprise for the athletes that the parade down State Street ended with them entering the theater by marching across the stage waving the flag of their country, and you could see the excitement and pride on their faces as they realized they were entering to the cheers of a standing audience. A boxer from Azerbaijan described Chicago and the ceremony as "Very good, very beautiful."

Everyone was very aware of Chicago's need to impress the International Olympic Committee members in the audience, since hosting the 2016 Olympics is an important goal for the city, so, after Mayor Daley spoke and AIBA president Ching-kuo Wu said "This proves the city of Chicago has total capacity to organize bigger events," the crowd went crazy with cheers, and Daley, behind him on the stage, beamed and smiled.

Then they announced the arrival of a surprise special guest, and you could feel the emotional temperature in the room rising. They introduced him with little bits of information at a time, and you could feel the crowd collectively trying to figure out who they were talking about, and when it was clear they were talking about Muhammad Ali, the excitement crested with scream and cheers, and everyone rose to their feet.

As the The Trib described it, "Every boxer stood in jubilation, and the crowd, including Mayor Richard Daley, who called Ali a 'great Chicagoan and a great human being,' began chanting, 'Ali, Ali, Ali.'"

It was a fun moment. I was proud of my brother and his work, and proud to feel like a real Chicagoan.


Grant Miller said...

Congratulations to your brother. I kind of love boxing, myself.

Bella Rossa said...

Thanks, Grant!

I can't say I'm a huge boxing aficionado, but there were enough hottie boxers there last night to make me consider learning more.

Of course I had to be a smarty pants before the evening was out, and said to my brother "You know, it really takes a special event like this to remind us everyone, no matter color, creed, or native language, likes to be punched in the face."

Bubs said...

Congrats to your brother, and glad you could be there. What was it like seeing Ali? I saw him once about 10 years ago, standing in the center of a small crowd on either Rush or State Street (it looked like he was attending a reception there) and he had the most amazing presence.

Bella Rossa said...

Thanks, Bubs! Actually, I didn't see Ali, because he was in the back of the Chicago Theater on the main floor (I was up in the balcony). I only saw him on the big jumboscreens on the stage, but even so you could feel his presence. And of course, the crowd's reaction was very powerful and moving.

nora said...

How cool! I love boxing, I have season tickets to the Golden Gloves matches at the Tindal Armory (downtown Indy). The only reason I agreed to join a Guild full of Carmel housewives (not that there is anything wrong with that...) was the agency it supports has a boxing ring and team.

Bella Rossa said...

Nora, you and my dad would get along just great. He loves boxing and used to go to lots of Golden Gloves stuff in Indianapolis. After the opening ceremonies he kept talking about coming back here for some of these matches but so far hasn't returned.

Also, my sister is a Carmel housewife, so I know what you mean. ::wink wink::