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Muhammad Ali Visit to the North East

A boxing legend and 'People's Champion', Muhammad Ali makes an extraordinary visit to Tyneside in the 1970s.

News 1977 6 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


In the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, Tyneside celebrated the extraordinary visit of one of boxing's all-time greats, Muhammad Ali. A magnetic character in and out of the ring, Ali flew in for a four-day charity tour to help raise money for local boxing clubs, on the invite of Whitburn painter and decorator, Johnny Walker. The visit was especially memorable for the South Shields Muslim community when Ali had his recent marriage blessed at the town's Al Azhar Mosque.

This Tyne Tees Television extract from their extensive news footage of the remarkable tour covers a gracious Ali cradling his daughter Hana in a media scrum at Teesside Airport (Ali and family missed their connection from Heathrow Airport to Newcastle). Guests at the blessing of Ali and his new wife, Veronica Porsche, include fairground showman Ron Taylor whose Excelsior boxing booth the world heavyweight champion would grace with a charity exhibition on the 16th July. Johnny Walker had once boxed at the booth as an amateur. The Muslim community of South Shields has its roots in the thousands of Yemeni sailors who settled there after one sailor, Ali Said, opened a boarding house for Arab seamen in 1894.