Wednesday 22 November 2017

Knock, knock, who's there? Muhammad Ali

Plumber Tony Kelly with Muhammad Ali, at Ali’s home in Louisville, Kentucky
Plumber Tony Kelly with Muhammad Ali, at Ali’s home in Louisville, Kentucky

Greg Harkin

A YOUNG Irishman was invited into Muhammad Ali's house after he thought he was the victim of a prank.

Plumber Tony Kelly, who lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky, was repairing burst pipes at a home in the city when American colleagues claimed Ali lived across the street..

The 24-year-old admits he didn't believe them -- but walked across the street and knocked on the door anyway.

He told Ali's wife Yolanda that he was Ali's biggest fan from Ireland, and to his surprise she invited him in to meet the former boxing heavyweight champion of the world.

The fact that it also happened to be Ali's 72nd birthday when Tony called to see him last Friday made the meeting even more special.

"I moved here to my wife's home city of Louisville in November 2012," said Mr Kelly, who met Megan while she was working on an organic farm in Tony's home town of Greencastle, Co Donegal.

"We were working last Friday and some of my workmates said that Muhammad Ali lived in the house across the street.

"I thought it was a wind-up so I decided to call their bluff.

"I knocked on the door and Ali's wife Yolanda answered and I just asked would be possible for one of his greatest fans from Ireland to meet him.

"She said 'of course' and invited me in and there he was (Ali) sitting in the living room."

Yolanda then took this snap of Mr Kelly with Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's Disease for 30 years.

"I was over the moon," said father-of-one Tony, who thanked the couple for inviting him in.

"I honestly thought it was a wind-up so it was a shock to meet Ali and his lovely wife. They were so pleasant. I told them I was from Donegal and now lived in Louisville.

"My workmates weren't winding me up after all. But they were the ones who were shocked when I walked back to work and showed them the picture of me with Ali. It was just awesome."

Irish Independent

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