Muhammad Ali: How '˜The Greatest' met Derry's Peace Women in 1972

The death of the legendary Muhammad Ali last weekend has seen a global outpouring of tributes to '˜the greatest' boxer of all time.

Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 7:00 am
Pictured with Muhammad Ali in Dublin in July, 1972 are from left to right; Mary Barr, Margret Doherty, harriet Hippsley, Kathleen Doherty and Eileen Semple.

However, Ali was also equally well known for his civil rights campaigns and the picture above shows a direct link between that and Derry almost exactly 44 years ago.

Pictured are five representatives from the Derry Peace Women who met with the sporting icon in the Dail in July, 1972.

The group known as the Derry Peace Women was established after the Official IRA murdered Derry born Catholic soldier Ranger William Best in May, 1972 . They led large protests to the headquarters of the Official IRA which soon after declared a ceasefire. The woman second from the left in the picture is the late Margaret Doherty.

Her son Paul told the ‘Journal’: “My father was there as well. He says that Ali was completely different from his television persona and was very softly spoken. He also said that the boxer identified himself strongly with Irish Catholics and that the meeting came about at his request.

“My mother was the sister of Barney McGuigan who of course was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and that was what kept her involved in civil rights issues because she did not want any organisation using her brother’s name to justify killing.”

Muhammad Ali spoke many times about his Irish roots. His great grandfather, Abe Grady in fact hailed from Ennis in Co Clare and the legendary boxer visited the town back in 2009.