Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas


Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

Muhammad Ali
by Dick Eastman
Muhammad Aliís Irish Ancestry

Muhammad Aliís Irish Ancestry

by Dick Eastman

Despite Americaís melting pot of nationalities, I donít often hear of Irish 
ancestry when reading about Black American genealogy.  However, history 
teaches us that many American Blacks have white, Indian, or other ancestry. 
Muhammad Aliís ancestry includes Irish immigrants and freed blacks.

An 1855 land survey of Ennis, a town in county Clare, Ireland, contains a 
reference to John Grady, who was renting a house in Turnpike Road in the 
center of the town. His rent payment was fifteen shillings a month. A few 
years later, his son Abe Grady immigrated to the United States.

Also, around the year 1855, a man and a woman who were both freed 
slaves, originally from Liberia, purchased land in or around Duck Lick 
Creek, Logan, Kentucky. The two married, raised a family, and farmed 
the land. These free blacks went by the name, Morehead, the name of 
white slave owners of the area.

Odessa Grady Clay, Cassius Clay's mother, was the great-granddaughter 
of the freed slave Tom Morehead and of John Grady of Ennis, whose son 
Abe had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. She named her son 
Cassius in honor of a famous Kentucky abolitionist of that time. When he 
changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964, the famous boxer remarked, 
"Why should I keep my white slavemaster's name visible and my black 
ancestors invisible, unknown, unhonored?"

You can read more about Muhammad Aliís (Cassius Clayís) ancestry at
www.genealogy.com/famousfolks/muhammada/index.html and at
www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/25/specials/ali-heritage.html. * Read the next article - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x


I've always thought there was something Irish about Muhammad Ali. Perhaps it was the way he talked ≠that verbal exuberance and earthy wit, combined with rootsy toughness. Now in a global exclusive with massive implications for Irish sporting history, the Irish Post has found proof that the boxing legend is indeed an Irishman! "Staff at the Clare Heritage Center at Corofin have discovered that the three-times world boxing champion's great grandfather was Abe Grady - who was born in the town of Ennis in the 1840s," the paper reveals. "According to genealogist Antoinette O'Brien the legendary boxer's great grandfather hailed from the Turnpike area of Ennis and emigrated to America in the 1860s from Cappa Harbour, near Kihrush in west Clare. Some time after arriving in the U.S., Mr. Grady married and African-American woman. Their son also married an African-American and one of the couple's children was Ali's mother Odessa Lee Grady. I understand that staff at Clare Heritage Center is now carefully scrutinizing the family trees of Jesse Owens, Olga Korbut and Mark Spitz. (The Catholic Herald, England, 2-22-02) - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x

Ancestry of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali began boxing at the age of 12 after his bicycle was stolen and the police officer he reported the theft to invited him to start training. He has thrown punches opposite many of the 20th century's other boxing icons including Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston and George Foreman. Today he lives in Michigan with his wife Lonnie. Born Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali is perhaps best known for his glib tongue and the controversy that surrounded him when he converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. 1. Muhammad1 Ali (Cassius Marcellus2 Clay, Herman H.3, John4), son of Cassius Marcellus Clay and Odessa Grady, was born in Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky 17 Jan 1942. 2. Cassius Marcellus2 Clay (Herman H.3, John4) was born in Jefferson Co., Kentucky 11 Nov 1912. Cassius died 8 Feb 1990 in Jefferson Co., Kentucky, at 77 years of age. He married Odessa Grady. Odessa was born in Hopkins County, Kentucky 12 Feb 1917.(1) Odessa is the daughter of John L. Grady and Birdie Morehead. - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x

Clare: Ennis link for world champion

The Clare Heritage Centre in Corofin has hit the headlines after staff there discovered Irish roots for former world boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The research, which was carried out for television station TG4 for a forthcoming television programme, uncovered the information that the boxer's greatgrandfather came from the Turnpike area of Ennis and emigrated to the US in the 1860s, leaving from Cappa Harbour near Kilrush. No one in Ennis had been aware of the illustrious connection and now the chairman of the council, Michael Corley, has said they are considering inviting Muhammed Ali to visit Ennis. - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x - x

Clare champion

S o Muhammed Ali's great grandfather was from Ennis in Clare, which might explain the county's hurlers' fondness for pugilism. Genaeologists at the Corofin Heritage Centre have ''just discovered'' what many people have already known for years (the 'Information Age' obviously hasn't spread too quickly to that part of the Banner), namely, that the three-times world boxing champion's ''great gran-paw'' was Abe Grady, who was born in Turnpike, Ennis, in the famine era and emigrated to America in the post-Civil War 1860s from Cappa Harbour, near Kilrush. He settled in Kentucky, marrying an African-American emancipated slave. A son from this marriage became the father of Odessa Grady, Ali's mother, who married Cassius Marcellus Clay Snr in the 1930s. They settled in Louisville, Kentucky, before their son Cassius Clay Jr was born in 1942. I've an old photo at home, taken when Ali visited Croke Park in July 1972 to fight Al ''Blue'' Lewis - the boxing legend's one and only visit to his ancestral homeland. It shows Eddie Keher looking on as The Greatest ''tries his hand'' at controlling a sliotar on a hurley. However, like the eejit I was (am) as a youngster, I decided to draw a pair of glasses on Keher with a biro. The caption told how the fight was ''in aid of handicapped children'' (of course it's politically incorrect to use the 'h' word nowadays) and that ''the GAA provided Croke Park free of charge and handled all the stewarding arrangements.'' I doubt Liam Mulvihill & co. would afford Messrs. Tyson and Lewis the same hospitality.