The Big Fight

Muhammad Ali vs Al "Blue" Lewis

Dave Hannigan,

The Big Fight: Muhammad Ali vs Al "Blue" Lewis
 
 
Twenty-four hours after arriving in Dublin, Muhammad Ali rang his publicist Harold Conrad. "Hey, Hal?" said Ali, "where are all the niggers in this country?" "Ali," replied Conrad, "there aren't any." On July 19, 1972, it took Muhammad Ali 11 rounds to defeat Al 'Blue' Lewis at Croke Park, Dublin. A mere footnote in the larger Ali story, this fight against a game ex-convict from Detroit marked the culmination of an extraordinary week in Ireland's sporting and cultural history. From the moment the world's most charismatic athlete touched down at Dublin Airport and announced his maternal great-grandfather Abe Grady had emigrated from County Clare more than a century before, the country was in his thrall and, of course, being Ali - he loved it. It was to be a most extraordinary week for both him and the people he met. Ali was both charming and charmed by those who came to pay homage - among them, the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, civil rights campaigner Bernadette Devlin, oscar-winning director John Huston, actor Peter O'Toole and an old lady who invited him into her house for a cup of tea. Through interviews with dozens of those whose paths Ali crossed and many centrally involved in the planning and promotion of the event, Dave Hannigan has knitted together an enthralling narrative about one incredible boxer and the remarkable impact of his visit on the country of his ancestors.


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