SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A portrait of Muhammad Ali in downtown Springfield that was painted as a tribute to the iconic boxer has been vandalized.
Several scratches now slice down the middle of the portrait that’s located on the back of a utility box on Main Street in Springfield.
John Simpson is the artist who spent hours painting the portrait. He described himself to 22News as a huge fan of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died less than two weeks ago.
Simpson painted the portrait of Ali a couple of weeks ago as a way to honor the iconic boxer shortly after he died.
He told 22News he was shocked when he came back to Main Street to finish it, and realized someone had dug a sharp object right into the painting. “It kind of tore off the face, and went right from the head down, all of the way through, so it was kind of disturbing to look at,” he said.
Disturbing and disrespectful, is how local boxer Jose Ortiz described the vandalism. “This is like a hate crime, it’s bad, and it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a shame people would do something like that,” he said.
Ortiz told 22News Ali wasn’t just an icon in the world of boxing, he was a role model, and a great human being.
The portrait of Ali is so badly damaged, Simpson has no choice but to fill in the crevices of missing metal, and start the painting over from scratch. “Everyone wanted me to paint it over, paint it again. So, I’m going to do some version of it,” he said.