Ireland-Muhammad Ali

DUBLIN (AP) - Thousands lined the streets of the Irish town that was once home to Muhammad Ali's great-grandfather to welcome the three-time world heavyweight champion.

Ali made the journey to Ennis today to discover his Irish roots and meet distant relatives. Ali offered a few jabs for the camera, but made no comments and steered clear of the throngs of authograph-seekers.

Ali's great-grandfather Abe Grady lived in the town before sailing for the U.S. and settling in Kentucky in the 1860s. He married a freed slave, and one of their grandchildren gave birth to Ali in 1942.

Ennis Mayor Frankie Neylon proclaimed Ali the town's first "freeman," a title that comes with special privileges, the most valuable of which is free parking.

Ali's wife says the couple plans to return to Ireland now that they "know that Muhammad is an Ennisman."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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