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Kalani Simpson

Sidelines

By Kalani Simpson

Wednesday, May 16, 2001


Boxing fans witness
torch being passed

FOR a moment, he had them again. For just a second, a flurry in the fifth round, the old man was young again.

And his crowd roared its approval and shouted his name.

And so he'll be back, even after what we saw yesterday.

The old man and the kid were there to bring boxing back to Hawaii, armed with the old man's legacy and the kid's promise.

The kid was the new star, the new hope. The kid was the future. But in a nod to his heart and his history, the old man would get top billing. Of course the old man would win again. He'd never lost in Hawaii, never lost in front of his people.

But his people, his legacy, his magic now belonged to the kid.

Did you hear it? Did you see it?

You could feel it.

The local people surrounding the ring had light in their eyes. They were swept up in the emotion of the moment. They threw every punch along with the kid, dodged every bullet, took every shot.

Dreamed every dream.

They were out there with him.

They had something to believe in.

They had someone to invest themselves in.

He was theirs. And he was great.

And it was wonderful.

"It's a whole new world out there," the kid said.

He made the people know that they were alive. That was his magic.

It was what the old man used to have.

With the kid, the crowd was in a frenzy. With the old man, the crowd was almost pleading.

They wanted him to be what he once was.

They wanted to win along with him one last time.

But they were different now, and so was he.

The old man was getting hit too much, and in the clinches his face looked every one of his 38 years. The other man was beating him.

The old man was behind, and soon, his only hope was for a knockout. The other man was going to win. And the people could only plead.

Then for a moment, he had them again, just like the old days. Just like it had always been. For a flash, he was young again and his people came to life and he gave them a ride.

BUT THEN THE blood started.

It came out, above his left eye, in big, successive drops. Like a faucet that hasn't been closed all the way. It dripped, the blood smearing down his face and impeding his vision. It dripped and splattered and ran, and it looked horrible.

The doctor looked at it.

The corner worked on it.

But the blood continued to drip, continued to run down the old man's face. The people, his people, were watching their proud warrior get beaten and bloodied before their very eyes. Finally, the referee had seen enough. The fight was stopped.

The old man threw his head back: Oh! Oh no! No!

The people booed.

"They shouldn't have stopped the fight," the old man said backstage. "I'll be back," the old man promised.

Of course he will be. For a moment, just that moment, he'd had them again.

And to the backdrop of mournful music, people started dismantling the ring and rolling up the wires.



Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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