Muhammad Ali given huge Irish hero's welcome

Posted By: Staff

Belfast (Ireland), Sep.2 (ANI): Former World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali was given an Irish hero's welcome on Tuesday at Turnpike Road from where his great-grandfather Abe Grady set out for the New World almost 150 years ago.

The former three times world heavyweight boxing champion was welcomed like a returning prodigal son when he arrived in Ennis, Co Clare, and was made its first Freeman.

Clearly moved by the fervour of the welcome, he refused to be ushered into a waiting vehicle by his security guards as the crowds chanted: "Ali! Ali! Ali!"

After unveiling a monument near the spot where his ancestral home - a two-room thatched cottage - once stood, he walked with his wife, Yolanda, to meet his fans, the majority of whom were not even born when his brilliant career was dimmed by the onset of Parkinson's disease, reports The Times.

Today Turnpike Road is lined with primly neat council houses, none prouder than the home of the late Eileen O'Grady, whose daughter, Mary, kissed and hugged her famous distant cousin.

Eileen died nine months ago, preferring to keep her association with one of the greatest sportsmen of all time a secret.

Genealogists traced the roots of Ali, formerly Cassius Clay Jr, to Abe Grady through land registry documents, which record that Grady left Ireland in the 1860s from Cappa Harbour in Kilruch, Co Clare. He settled in Kentucky, where he married a freed African-American slave.

Their son also married an African-American and one of the daughters of that union was Odessa Lee Grady, who married Cassius Clay Sr. (ANI)

Story first published: Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 12:46 [IST]
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