Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is heading to Ireland next month to help raise money for his non–profit Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and education center in Louisville , Kentucky and other hospices.
The boxing great is no stranger to Irish shores and made a famous trip to Ireland in 1972, when he sat down with Cathal O’Shannon of RTE for a fascinating television interview.
What’s more, genealogist Antoinette O'Brien discovered that one on Ali’s great-grandfathers emigrated to the United States from County Clare, meaning that the three-time heavyweight world champion joins the likes of President Obama and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as prominent African-Americans with Irish heritage.
In the 1860s, Abe Grady left Ennis in County Clare to start a new life in America. He would make his home in Kentucky and marry an African-American woman.
The couple started a family, and one of their daughters was Odessa Lee Grady. Odessa met and married Cassius Clay, Sr. and on January 17, 1942, Cassius junior was born.
Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he became a Muslim in 1964.
Ali, an Olympic gold medalist at the 1960 games in Rome, has been suffering from Parkinsons for some years, but is committed to raising funds for his center.