If it were possible for a man to live his entire life, be well known in almost every sphere of national endeavour, and yet the vast majority of the population still could not call his real name — that man would be Young Cassius Clay.
And if there is a Barbadian whose very life personified the titles “versatility” and “self-made man”, that individual would be Winston Yearwood.
In classic Barbadian vernacular, Young Cassius Clay and Winston Yearwood were the “said same person” — a Bajan in every sense of the word, with a body as tough as St. Lucy rock, a heart as warm as the sun setting over Bridgetown, and a laugh that could bring a smile to the lips of even the most “hard-face” rum shop character in Bayfield.
Young Cassius Clay, whether he was singing, boxing, bodybuilding, fire-eating, limbo dancing, roller skating, playing roller-hockey, mentoring or just telling a joke among “de fellas” under the ackee tree, was always “sweeter than a sno-cone“. Without doubt, his passing means a sizeable chunk of authentic Bajan history and life is headed for the grave.
Since becoming Prime Minister, I have paid tribute to scores of Barbadians at their passing, but on only a few of those occasions have I been left to wondered what Barbadian life would be like without them. This is one such occasion, for Cassius Clay was as unique as he was Bajan and I do not foresee another like him arising in my remaining days on this earth.
On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, I now say: “Thank you Young Cassius Clay, for all you have given to this country. You arose from the poorest, most humble beginnings in Bridgetown, fought through a childhood that would have broken the spirits of so many, grew into a young man who helped to put Barbados’ sports, entertainment and culture on the world map, then devoted so much of your energy and limited resources to helping others.
“This country will always be indebted to you. Rest in peace, my brother.”