Paul Simon Breaks News of Muhammad Ali’s Death While Performing ‘The Boxer’

Concertgoers become audibly upset upon hearing the sad announcement

Paul Simon
Getty Images

Paul Simon interrupted a performance of his hit song “The Boxer” Friday night to break the news of Muhammad Ali’s death.

The singer was in concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California.

Toward the end of the song, Simon paused and announced, “I’m sorry to tell you this way, but Muhammad Ali has passed away.”

Members of the audience were audibly saddened by the news, and then joined Simon in singing the final verse of the song, which is about a boxer struggling with his career and personal life.

Paul Simon and his partner Art Garfunkel grew in popularity during the 1960s, the same time that Muhammad Ali did.

Although the duo were not as vocally opposed to the Vietnam War as Ali was, a number of their songs — notably 1966’s “Homeward Bound” — were adopted as anti-war anthems.

“The Boxer” is from Simon & Garfunkel’s seminal 1970 album “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Muhammad Ali died Friday after being hospitalized earlier in the week for respiratory problems. Like Simon, he was 74 years old.

Watch Simon’s tribute below.