Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

He Danced, He Sparred, He Joked His Way AROUNDTYNESIDE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

He Danced, He Sparred, He Joked His Way AROUNDTYNESIDE

Article excerpt

BACK in the summer of 1977, as reigning world champion, Muhammad Ali made a sensational visit to Tyneside.

For millions of people, he was the ultimate sporting hero. He was the most famous man on the planet.

In the new age of global television, we had been entranced by Ali's supreme charisma and confidence - and willed him to victory in his epic fights against George Foreman and Joe Frazier, among many others.

That he was coming to our little corner of the planet - the North East of England - was incredible, and none of us who saw the great man in the flesh will ever forget it.

In July 1977, to the huge surprise of Johnny Walker, a Whitburn painter and decorator, Ali accepted his invitation to travel from the United States to South Shields and help raise money for his boxing club.

During his four-day visit he toured the region in an open-topped bus as thousands of us took to the streets to catch a glimpse.

He visited Newcastle's Pendower Hall Special School and Grainger Park Boys Club. …

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