The King of South Shields - Muhammad Ali 1977

On hearing the news last Friday that the great Muhammad Ali had passed away at the age of 74, we were reminded of the many amazing things that the boxing legend had done throughout his life. He was known as 'The Greatest' and his boxing career seems to have served primarily as a vehicle to affect change on society and public opinion through his work as an activist. He was a true inspiration to many across several generations...

Float like a butterfly

Following on from our recent post about Barbour, and the mention of South Shields, a certain story came to mind concerning a special visitor to the town in 1977.....

Muhammad Ali - Ocean Road South Shields 1977

In the year of the Queen's Jubilee, as her royal highness travelled the country visiting town after town, an even more important visitor took the time out of his very busy life to travel to the small North East England town in the name of charity...

Muhammad Ali - South Shields 1977

Friend and local ex-boxer Johnny Walker, who was working as a painter and decorator, asked Ali to come to the area on a four day tour to raise money and awareness for a local boys boxing club and, being the man he was, Ali was happy to oblige.

Whilst in town, Ali visited an important local mosque to have his marriage blessed wearing a striking all white suit. He also toured the streets in an open topped bus that had recently been used for the jubilee celebrations causing one local resident to remark "He's more important than the Queen, she visited the whole country, but he travelled all this way just to visit South Shields".


Muhammad Ali - South Shields 1977

All 14 return air fare tickets for his group were paid for by the local organisers of the trip but, in the name of charity, Ali returned all 7000 pounds from his own pocket as he wanted every penny to go towards support of the youth clubs. It was a great event for South Shields and, with the passing of the great man, it's a good time to remember the impact that he had on the place and it's people all those years ago.