Archive for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

People in the news

Boxing legend traces roots to Irish town

September 2, 2009

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— Muhammad Ali made a sentimental journey Tuesday to discover his Irish roots, and met distant relatives during celebrations at the local town hall and a nearby castle.

Thousands lined the streets of Ennis, western Ireland, to cheer his motorcade as the three-time heavyweight champion visited the home of his great-grandfather Abe Grady.

Fans adorned streets with red, white and blue bunting and flags, while shop windows competed to display the most impressive posters honoring Ali — including one tongue-in-cheek portrait of him appearing ready to knock out an unpopular Irish politician.

Ali, who is 67 and battling Parkinson’s disease, fought only once in Ireland, knocking out Alvin Lewis at Dublin’s Croke Park on July 19, 1972.

Grady settled in Kentucky in the 1860s and married a freed slave. One of their grandchildren, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, gave birth to Ali — then Cassius Clay — in 1942.

Genealogists pinpointed Ali’s Irish links in 2002, but Ali had never visited Ennis.

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