I once (a long time ago, in the 70s) worked as the sound guy on a film shoot at the Apollo Theater, yes, that Apollo Theater (James Brown!), for a benefit for a Harlem-based bicycle-racing club trying to make the Olympic team.
I was positioned in the aisle, crouched on the floor, doing my work on the Nagra, about 30 feet from the stage. When Ali, a supporter of the club, a sponsor/supporter of the event, was announced, he strode down the aisle right by me. Within inches. Fortunately he didn’t spill over my cables.
When I think about charisma and magic, I think of that moment. I didn’t meet Ali, I didn’t shake his hand, but his charisma filled the (big) room. It washed over me and all of us. His passing by me rained magic down on me. He was a hero, to me already, but his presence in that room was something else. It was the Greatest.
Tonight, he left the room, but he will surely endure.