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Page last updated at 21:11 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 22:11 UK

Ennis ready to welcome legend Ali

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1984

Muhammad Ali's visit to Ireland later this month will include a trip to his Irish ancestral home in County Clare.

Ali has accepted an invitation from Ennis Town Council to retrace the steps of his great grandfather who emigrated to the US in the 1860s.

The boxing legend is scheduled to attend a dinner in Dublin on 31 August which will come after a short visit to the UK.

He then plans to travel on to Ennis on 1 September.

There is also speculation that Ali may travel to Dundalk as the businessman who has convinced the former world heavyweight champion to travel to Ireland is a native of the County Louth town.

Dr Pearse Lyons is the head of Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company, which has made substantial donations to Ali's charity.

"The people of Ennis and County Clare will welcome Mohammad Ali with open arms," said Ennis Mayor Frankie Neylon.

The former world heavyweight champion, now 67, is planning visits to Ireland and the UK to raise money for his non-profit Muhammad Ali Centre and children's hospices.

His UK appearances will include a visit to football club Stoke City's Britannia Stadium for a luncheon event on Thursday, 27 August.

Ennis Town Council officials met with Ali's representatives on Sunday to finalise a date for the visit.

Mr Neylon added that he expected further details of Ali's visit to be finalised during a special meeting of Ennis Town Council on Monday week.

Muhammad Ali greets one of the Irish competitors at the 2003 Special Olympics
Ali attended the 2003 Special Olympics in Ireland

"His visit will serve as a huge boost to the local economy including its bars and hotels, which have experienced a huge downturn in business over the last year," added the Ennis Mayor.

Ali's great grandfather Abe Grady lived on the Turnpike Road in Ennis before emigrating to the US in the 1860s.

Grady sailed from Cappa Harbour in Kilrush before settling in Kentucky and marrying an African-American woman.

Their son also married an African-American and one of the daughters of that union was Ali's mother, named Odessa Lee Grady.

She married Cassius Clay, senior, and they settled in Louisville, where their son was initially given his father's name on his birth in 1942.

He later changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam after winning the world title in 1964.

Ali fought at Dublin's Croke Park in July 1972 with his victory over Al Blue Lewis in a non-title bout coming a year after his defeat by Joe Frazier.

The three-times world heavyweight champion also made a moving visit to Ireland during the 2003 Special Olympics.

In addition to his visit to Stoke City's Britannia Stadium, Ali will also make appearances at Manchester United's Old Trafford and Wembley Stadium during his stay in the UK.

Ali, who is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1984, but remains an active and much-loved public figure.



see also
Boxing legend Ali to visit Stoke
03 Jul 09 |  Stoke
When Ali tried his hand at hurling
19 Feb 08 |  Gaelic Games
GAA's gift to Special Olympics
20 Jun 03 |  Gaelic Games
The week Ali charmed Ireland
07 Oct 02 |  Northern Ireland


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