Artist Pays Tribute to Muhammad Ali with Mural in Cambridge’s Central Square
When news broke Friday that former heavyweight boxing champion and civil rights icon Muhammad Ali had died at the age of 74, Brian Wentworth knew he had to do something to honor “The Greatest.”
As soon as he woke up on Saturday morning, the 29-year-old artist rushed over to Central Square in order to create a stunning, graffiti tribute to Ali in Modica Way, a Cambridge alley known for its breathtaking street art.
“What better way to memorialize Ali than to do a mural of one of my favorite images,” Wentworth says. “It’s just so powerful.”
The Somerville resident, who’s originally from Colchester, Connecticut, admits that he was born a little too late to experience Ali in his prime. However, Wentworth says that the famed boxer’s eloquent way with words transcends any generational boundaries.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone who hasn’t been inspired by Ali,” he says. “Some of the best quotes ever are Ali quotes. He just spoke his mind, and it’s inspiring to hear what he had to say. … It’s resonated into my generation.”
So far, the response to the mural has been extremely positive.
Wentworth says that people kept coming up to him to shake his hand while he worked on the project over the weekend.
“It’s been nothing but love, so much positivity,” he says. “When I was working on it, people were stopping and they were so thankful that I was painting it. It’s clear that he touched a lot of people’s lives.”
Unfortunately, the alleyway where the mural went up is one of the few places where people can legally spray paint art in the area. Wentworth hopes that the image will remain for at least a little while since it’s been so well-received.
“Things get painted over pretty quickly there,” he says. “Hopefully the Ali portrait lives a little longer.”