Muhammed Ali captured the hearts of the Irish in the same way that he enchanted people all over the world.
In July, 1972, he flew into Dublin for a non-title fight with his long-time friend and sparring partner Alvin ‘Blue’ Lewis.
The Irish Tourist Board then pulled off a major coup by getting the world’s most marketable sports star to film a short advert to promote Ireland.
As always, Ali was entertaining and charming throughout the video. He marvelled at the lush green countryside, saying that he had never seen anything like it, not even in his home state of Kentucky.
Ali also took the time to watch some of the native Irish sports Gaelic Football and Hurling. He commented that they “looked a bit rough and he would stick to boxing”.
He finished the video by saying that he intended to return to Ireland for a holiday, once he had beaten his arch rival Joe Frazier back home in the USA.
The Ali v Lewis fight took place at Croke Park, Dublin a few days later, with Ali winning in the 11th round.
Ali won millions friends in Ireland, with people remembering his charm, humour and generosity for many years to come.
Watch Muhammad Ali’s video to promote Ireland below.
When asked what he’d like his legacy to be, he said:
I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right.
As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could.
As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.
And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people.
And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.