Park West Gallery Artist Simon Bull Unveils Painting of Muhammad Ali and Obama at Inaugural Soiree
January 19, 2009/ WASHINGTON — “The Greatest” saluted the nation’s first black president at an inaugural soiree Monday night. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, celebrating his 67th birthday, was the guest of honor at a party for 1,400 that included other celebrities, lawmakers and native Kentuckians. “He wouldnt have missed this for the world,” Lonnie Ali said after Monday night’s Bluegrass Ball, a celebration of her husband’s 67th birthday.
Muhammad Ali carried the dreams of a generation during his prime as an athlete, and later as a humanitarian.
“What’s interesting is that Muhammad had time to grow into his role as being a world humanitarian,” Lonnie Ali said. Obama on the other hand “will inherit the world on his shoulders, not just the U.S. And it is a much heavier burden than I think Muhammad had to face. But I think (Obama’s) his shoulders are broad,” she added. “He and Muhammad are really made of the same fabric.”
Native Kentuckian and actress Ashley Judd and artist Simon Bull unveiled a birthday gift to Ali – a pair of portraits of the boxer and Obama. The two appear in the painting depicting a close-up of Obama’s face looking off into the distance. Within the boundaries of the new president’s visage is a depiction of Ali as a boxer gazing over a fallen opponent – signifying a debt that Obama owes Ali and his fighting spirit, according to a release by the Muhammad Ali Center, which commissioned the portraits.
“Youve got Barack Obama, who’s the leader of the greatest nation on earth, and Muhammad Ali, who’s the greatest of all time,” mused Steve Buttleman, official bugler of Churchill Downs. “How appropriate is that? Its so fitting.”