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Carl adds his voice to those eulogising king of the ring Ali

By Chris McCullough

Published 06/06/2016

Tribute: Carl Frampton
Tribute: Carl Frampton

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been classed as the "greatest sportsman there has ever been" by fighters from Northern Ireland.

Belfast world champion boxer Carl Frampton said: "Muhammad Ali was a huge icon for people all over the world, but also for a number of reasons outside of boxing.

"He called himself 'The Greatest'. Others called him their hero.

"He stood up for black people in America when they were being treated as second class citizens.

"When Ali returned from the 1960 Olympics in Rome after winning a gold medal in the light heavyweight class he was refused entry into a restaurant because of his race.

"Ali said he didn't want to wear a gold medal in a country that wouldn't serve him so he threw it into the Ohio River."

North Belfast Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes wrote on Twitter: "Sad day for sport all over the world".

And former boxing flyweight world champion Dave Boy McAuley said: "Muhammad Ali was probably the best fighter of all time. He inspired nearly every boxer on the planet."

Former world champion Barry McGuigan said Ali was "the greatest sportsman there has ever been" and that he was "a remarkable human being."

McGuigan added: "He was hugely inspirational for me and many fighters all over the world. Everybody wanted to box because of him. He was the greatest sportsman there has ever been and we were very lucky that he chose boxing."

Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson also paid tribute. He said: "He was my hero from when I was a young amateur boxer back in Ireland.

"I got to meet him before he had his last fight in 1981. Not knowing what to say and with my knees shaking, I said, 'Muhammad, I love you.' He gave me a hug and then signed an autograph for my father."

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