DUBLIN — Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is on a sentimental journey to see his little-known Irish roots.
Tens of thousands are awaiting the three-time world heavyweight champion’s arrival Tuesday in the western Irish town of Ennis, the home of Ali’s great-grandfather Abe Grady. Fans have adorned shops and streets with posters of Ali and red, white and blue USA bunting.
They plan to watch live on TV screens as the Ennis council names Ali as its first “freeman,” a civic honor.
Grady settled in the United States in the 1860s and married a freed African-American slave. One of their grandchildren, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, was Ali’s mother.
Genealogists established Ali’s Irish links in 2002, but Ali – who is 67 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease – has never visited Ennis before.