Saturday, September 17, 2022

the last book I ever read (We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, excerpt eleven)

from We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O'Toole:

In July 1972, my father was working on an early morning bus that went out on the quiet roads into the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. It was trundling along outside Enniskerry when he saw a very unusual sight for those times in Ireland: a group of men running along the side of the road in tracksuits. They were big men. They were also Black men. One of them was the person my father most adored in the whole world. The bus pulled up ahead of the group and my father jumped off to say hello to Muhammad Ali. He was in Dublin for a fight in Croke Park against Al ‘Blue’ Lewis, promoted by the same Butty Sugrue who had once claimed to have Admiral Nelson’s head.

My father asked him if he would like a lift. Ali joked that he had left his wallet in his hotel and couldn’t pay the fare. My father said he would make an exception for Ali and his entourage. They got on the bus and Ali said good morning to the few sleepy passengers, then got off and continued his training run. When he was telling us about this magical encounter, my father kept using the word ‘beautiful’ about Ali–the first time I had ever heard a man use it about another man.

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