Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 May 2015

Muhammad Ali: Irish TV channel raided canteen till to pay for interview

Trevor Berbick, left, and Muhammad Ali Dec. 12, 1981
Trevor Berbick, left, and Muhammad Ali Dec. 12, 1981
Novelist Norman Mailer is shown arm wrestling with heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali on the terrace of their San Juan hotel, August 1, 1965
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine. The bout lasted only one minute into the first round.
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali goes into a victory dance as referee Joe Walcott signals the end of the bout over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine.
Muhammad Ali reacts to the crowd during his fight against Sonny Liston in Miami Beach, Fla., Feb. 25, 1964
Muhammad Ali, left, and Sir Henry Cooper appearing at the European Jumping and Dressage Championships in Windsor England, Friday
Muhammad Ali posing with Henry Cooper in 1966
Cassius Clay (left), now Muhammad Ali, and Henry Cooper after their fight at Wembley London.
Cassius Clay, being knocked down by Henry Cooper during their fight at Wembley London 1963
Henry Cooper after he challenged World Heavyweight boxing Champion Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), at the Arsenal Stadium, London.
File photo dated 18/6/1963 of Cassius Clay, now Muhammad Ali, and Henry Cooper during their fight at Wembley London. The pair are meeting up again this evening at Windsor this evening. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday August 28 2009. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Henry Cooper and Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), at the Arsenal Stadium, London. 1966
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali visits the UK. 2009
Muhammad Ali with his wife Lonnie Ali in Ennis, Co Clare, unveiling the plaque on Turnpike Road to his ancestors after he was honoured yesterday as the first Freeman of his ancestral home in Ireland

Veteran Irish broadcaster Cathal O'Shannon has revealed he had to raid the till in the RTE canteen to pay Muhammad Ali when he interviewed the world champion at the station during the early 70s.

Billed as 'Muhammad Ali v Cathal O'Shannon', the three-time World Heavyweight champion received just £100 from the state broadcaster for the interview at the height of his fame in 1972.

"Ali had been paid £14,000 for an interview by the BBC the previous week but he still wanted his money, and in cash which meant I had to go over to the RTE canteen and scrape it out of the till, to pay him in shillings, pounds and pence," O'Shannon revealed yesterday.

The 82-year-old recounted the story at a tribute event 'Cathal O' Shannon -- A Life In Television', organised by the Irish Film and Television Academy which took place at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin.

"There were people on the campus of RTE who were hated by everybody. There were also people who were loved by everybody.

"Cathal was loved by everybody. In fact, he was adored by everyone in the place," said Gay Byrne who hosted a Q&A with O'Shannon at the function.

And plenty of them turned up to prove it yesterday including RTE producers past and present Larry Masterson, Brian Hayes, and John McColgan. From Marino in Dublin, O'Shannon began his journalistic career on an in-house RAF staff paper at the end of World War Two before joining the 'Irish Times' as a reporter in Dublin and then London where he came to the attention of the BBC.

Accepting the honour, O'Shannon said: "It is always flattering to be acknowledged by your peers . . . and I am very grateful to IFTA for this honour. It is particularly gratifying that it occurs before I pop my clogs."

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