Muhammad Ali surpassed stardom, according to former Stormont minister Mervyn Storey who met him 11 years ago.
The DUP Assemblyman was visiting Ali's home town of Louisville, Kentucky, and during a trip to the Muhammad Ali Center a security guard asked him if he would like to meet the boxing champion. Mr Storey jumped at the chance and was ushered into a room where Ali was watching a boxing fight on TV.
The Ballymoney politician told the Belfast Telegraph: "In 2005 I was on a visit to Louisville, Kentucky, and I went to see the Muhammad Ali Museum and when I was there one of the security guards asked, 'Would you like to meet Mr Ali?'.
"I said I would be delighted, so they took us, six of us, up and brought us into this room and here he was sitting watching a fight and then they introduced us individually to him.
"He was certainly in the early stages of Parkinson's and it was clear that this was a problem. We talk about superstars and legends, but for me Muhammad Ali even surpasses that, because I think you would struggle if you asked somebody today who is the heavyweight champion of the world but in that era everybody knew who Muhammad Ali was.
"He was just such a larger than life figure and for me it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet somebody of that magnitude.
"I was very pleased that I had the honour to meet somebody of that statue in my lifetime. I wouldn't be a big fan of boxing but he was more than just a boxer.
"I may not have agreed with everything he said and done but given the fact that he was such a megastar I thought it was a great opportunity for me to meet him.
"Whenever I was told of his passing I felt sad because in relative terms he was still an old man but obviously his health had deteriorated over the years and I am just sad to hear that his death has occurred."