Denis Tuohy: ‘Career highlight was my Muhammad Ali chat'

Belfast-born broadcaster Denis Tuohy interviewed Muhammad Ali for BBC Tonight programme

BELFAST-born broadcaster Denis Tuohy has described how interviewing Muhammad Ali was one of the highlights of his career.

The journalist was a regular on television screens during the 1970s working on Panorama and This Week and later in the 1990s as an ITN reporter.

It was during his time as a presenter for the BBC Tonight programme, he interviewed the legendary boxer.

"He came to Limegrove studios, like a butterfly he was flying between interviews to promote his book 'The Greatest My Own Story'," he said.

"He arrived surrounded by minders and we had a 15 minute interview.

"He talked about why he refused to fight in Vietnam, about Joe Frazier and how they hyped up the animosity between them just to sell tickets when in fact they were good friends.

"They’d travelled together in the same car from Philadelphia to New York but when they came close to the venue and the photographers, Frazier got out and walked forward and when Ali followed a suitable distance behind, they started insulting each other at the top of their voices.

"I thought he was a man of considerable dignity and when I asked him if he’d have time to sign his book for me, he took it and walked away to a corner of the studio and wrote.

"I only had a chance of reading the inscription after he left and to me it showed a much deeper the man than the public image he portrayed.

"It said 'Death is so near and time for friendly actions is so limited. Peace. 3.9.76'."

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