An All-Ireland winning hurler travelled to Louisville for Muhammad Ali's funeral 5 years ago

An All-Ireland winning hurler travelled to Louisville for Muhammad Ali's funeral

To say that Muhammad Ali had some impact on every sportsperson sounds like a massive exaggeration but the past week would suggest that that assertion might indeed be true.

Following Ali's passing last weekend at the age of 74, tributes poured in from boxers, footballers, track athletes, mixed martial artists, rugby players - the list goes on and on... all the way to hurlers, apparently.

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Ali wasn't to know that he had inspired hurlers on this side of the Atlantic but his impact on one in particular was such that Liam Walsh decided to make the trip to Louisville to pay tribute to one of his sporting idols when he learned of Ali's death.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Walsh, a two-time All-Ireland hurling winner for Kilkenny, told the Irish Times that the decision to travel to Kentucky arrived at him all of a sudden while he was at his local pub in Glenmore.

"I took a mad notion Saturday night," Walsh explained.

On Tuesday, Walsh left for the United States and drove with his friend Joe O'Shea from New York down to Louisville in time for Ali's funeral on Friday afternoon.

The memorial service, held at the KFC Yum! Centre, was a star-studded event with former U.S. president Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal all speaking at the ceremony where the pallbearers included Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Will Smith.

Also there was a less high-profile name but one that was no less inspired by Ali's life work as Liam Walsh's journey to pay his respects to his hero culminated in Kentucky.

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"The things Ali would say and then do them. Jeez, if a hurler turned around said 'we'll win tomorrow.' My God almighty just think of the furore," Walsh said.

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