Thursday 21 September 2017

'Rest easy champ' - Irish politicians and sportspeople pay tribute

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Muhammad Ali and president and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds Kieran McLoughlin at a 2011 event at which Ali received The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award Photo: Michael Nagle
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Muhammad Ali and president and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds Kieran McLoughlin at a 2011 event at which Ali received The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award Photo: Michael Nagle

Ciara Tracey

Tributes have been pouring in nationwide for Muhammad Ali, from Irish politicians who were inspired by his achievements and sportspeople mourning the loss of 'The Greatest'.

President Michael D Higgins said the boxer's passing "will have been heard with the greatest sadness by Irish people of all generations.

"Many will remember the wit, grace and beauty he brought to boxing and some will recall his visits to Ireland," President Higgins said.

"All over the world, people also flocked to hear him offer his view on the achievement of democracy and particularly equal rights when they were so strikingly missing in some of the richest countries of the world.

"He brought his message of freedom and respect for people of all races to all the continents of the world.

"As a sportsman and humanitarian, and as someone who struggled for a very long time with one of the most debilitating illnesses, he offered courage in the face of great difficulties."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny took to Twitter to express his condolences on the death of the man who "inspired" generations of Irish people.

"Young people that never saw him fight can quote him word perfect," he wrote. "Rest easy champ."

According to Sports Minister Shane Ross, Ali "made the entire world listen" and "his charm and charisma inspired people around the world".

"He is arguably the first superstar sportsman, and will always be people's number 1," Mr Ross said.

Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, recalled when the Funds presented Ali with a Humanitarian Award at its New York Gala in 2011.

"While he will always be remembered for his extraordinary skills in the ring, his philanthropic work and indeed the discovery of his Irish lineage were just as extraordinary," said Mr McLoughlin.

"He electrified that evening in New York and affected deeply our 1,000 guests. It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of this legendary man."

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association mourned the loss of a fighter "like no other".

It held a one minute's silence in memory of Ali at the National Junior Cadet Championships at Dublin's National Stadium at the weekend.

Irish Independent

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