Enda punches above his weight at charity dinner
ALL he was missing was the autograph book. Taoiseach Enda Kenny could barely hide his excitement at meeting boxing great Muhammad Ali -- who he once described as his ideal dinner party guest -- at the end of his visit to New York.
Mr Kenny and Mr Ali were attending a gala dinner for the American-Ireland fund in the Lincoln Centre, where the three-time world heavyweight champion was given the fund's 2011 humanitarian award for his charity work in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
The award was also given in recognition of Mr Ali's links to Ennis, Co Clare, the birthplace of his great-grandfather Abe Grady, who emigrated to the US in the 1860s.
"From George Chuvalo to Floyd Patterson to Big Cat Williams, Ernie Tyrell, to poor Henry Cooper who went away last week, to George Foreman who you de-psychologised in Zaire when you sent him a message saying you were going to poison his food," Mr Kenny said in a speech without notes at the $1,000-a-plate dinner, which was attended by 1,200 people and raised $3m (€2.1m) for Irish charities.
"I saw him prove that while he might have spoken loudly about being the greatest, he just didn't talk about it, he went ahead and did it," he added.
The Taoiseach also spoke with actor Liam Neeson, who offered to work to help Ireland's image abroad.