Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Eulogy for Andre Ward 1.0

We gather here today to remember a loved one who has left this earth and gone on to the kingdom of heaven. Although this occasion is marked with tears and sadness, the death of our brother is not a senseless one. You will not turn on the news tonight to see reports of wasted potential of failed promise. No, Andre Ward, Version 1.0 died as an agent of the Lord. At the height of Version 1.0's ability, the Lord called to him and told him that he was needed. And Version 1.0 heard the call and became the Lord's messenger. And that, for all those who are here today, is what we must take from the life and death of Version 1.0.  

Could we make the same decisions? Would we sacrifice like Version 1.0 did? The Lord makes demands on all of us. Will we let him in? Will we follow the path of righteousness? Could we forsake our ego, our vanity and the trappings of the material world to fulfill our ultimate purpose? My brothers and sisters, yes, today is a sad day but one that is also filled with joy. Version 1.0, an absolute transcendent talent, is no longer with us but his spirit remains in all of us. You can feel his righteousness in the room today. His good deeds and the way he treated others with respect, dignity and kindness help provide light even in the darkest of times.  

Version 1.0 leaves us with so many wonderful memories. Let us take to a minute to remember what he accomplished in the ring: an Olympic gold medalist, an undefeated super middleweight champion, the number-one fighter in the sport. The breadth of his accomplishments was undeniable. He was America's last great boxer. 

Version 1.0 was spiritual, god-fearing, one who was respected by his community, an example for our youth. Version 1.0 walked the earth with humility, class and dignity. He always remembered the Lord's providence.  

As we look at Version 1.0 lying there, surrounded by flowers, his amateur trophies, triumphant pictures...and sorry, I get a little choked up by this...we can only think of this as God's work. As God's plan.  

It is not for us to ask why the Lord sent Version 1.0 on a quest away from boxing. Fighting in courtrooms instead of the ring, Version 1.0 followed the Lord's path. God has plans for all of us. He had a plan for Abraham, for Jonah, for Job, all of whom were asked by the Lord to make sacrifices, to carry out his decisions, however difficult they might be for mortals to understand. These instances test faith and Version 1.0, who referred to himself as Son of God in the ring, became the Lord's humble servant. When it was time for his calling, he left behind money and glory and fought instead for universal truths. Version 1.0 stood up for loyalty, fair treatment under the law, equality and, let us not forget, honesty. These ideals are central throughout our holy scriptures.  

These courtroom battles took a toll on Version 1.0 far heavier than he had ever faced in the boxing ring. After years in the wilderness, Version 1.0 returned to the sport he had loved since childhood. Yet something had changed. His legs weren't the same. He couldn't float around the ring anymore. His reflexes had suffered. His defense, once impenetrable, now betrayed him. His right hand no longer caused waves of destruction. It became a mere appendage attached to his shoulder. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away!  

Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul?" 

Version 1.0 realized that his life was no longer his; he was now an agent of the Lord. In materialistic ways, he had already gained the whole world: money, riches, fame. But in his soul – IN HIS SOUL – that wasn't enough! That wasn't his path to righteousness! That wasn't the Lord's calling! Even if he lost the physical attributes that gave him the whole world, Version 1.0 wanted to save his soul. He sacrificed himself for a greater purpose. Let that be a lesson. The world is not about physical vanity or materialistic gain. It's about having a pure spirit, ready to be delivered by the Lord. 

Looking around the room at everyone seated here, I know that Version 1.0 affected all of us. There was a beauty to his boxing, an expertise that we all hoped we could attain in our chosen professions. He was the best. He was OUR best – a beacon of hope in a city far more familiar with the sirens of defeat.  

We'll remember what Version 1.0 accomplished, knocking out Chad Dawson with those menacing left hooks, dominating Mikkel Kessler, beating Carl Froch with one hand, making Arthur Abraham look like an amateur, winning the Super Six, standing on the podium in Athens clasping the gold medal as our national anthem played. 

Version 1.0 was special. And the Lord, who had given him those gifts, had grand designs for him that superseded the boxing ring. Yes, we know that there's Version 2.0 and he may one day rise to the heights of Version 1.0, but that is not the purpose of today's gathering.   

Lord, we pray for the friends, family and loved ones of Version 1.0. May you give them strength and bless them in their time of mourning. May you bless this congregation and may we all remember the wisdom and righteousness of Version 1.0. He has left us to serve you. Give us the strength to follow his path so at the time of Judgment we may also enter the kingdom of heaven. 

From 1 John 3: 1-2,

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 

Version 1.0, the Son of God, and as the scripture says, we are all children of God. Let the memory of Version 1.0, let his sacrifices, his smile, his character help guide us when we face our calling. There will be a time for all of us to stand up, like Version 1.0 stood up. But will we make the right decisions like Version 1.0 did? Lord, give us the strength to do as Version 1.0 did. May we all be on the path of the righteous. And may we all receive salvation.

I'd like to end with Psalm 106. For those who also know it, please join in:  

"O give thanks unto the Lord for he is gracious,
and his mercy endureth forever.

Who can express the noble acts of the Lord,
or show forth all his praise?
Blessed are they that always keep judgment,
and do righteousness. 

Remember me, O Lord, according to the favor that thou bearest unto thy people;
O visit me with thy salvation. 

That I may see the felicity of the chosen,
and rejoice in the gladness of thy people,
and give thanks with thine inheritance."
And let us say, amen.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter, SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com 

1 comment:

  1. Luke 4:24
    "Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country."

    And so it is with S.O.G.

    Excellent article!!!