Article Jan 02, 2017

You are no longer passing

Liam Neeson's father sobbed over Muhammad Ali autograph

Liam Neeson's father was left in tears after the actor managed to get him a Muhammad Ali autograph in the 1980s.

The Taken star considers the late boxer among his greatest heroes and he's grateful he got the chance to meet him twice. The first time he saw him was at a film premiere in England and he was able to get an autograph for his dad.

"He was in a film that he was promoting called Freedom Rogue with Kris Kristofferson, not a very good film," Liam told Live! with Kelly on Friday (16Dec16). "My girlfriend at the time was invited to meet Muhammad Ali at the Dorchester Hotel in London and she said to me very casually, 'Would you like to meet Muhammad Ali?'

"So the day came... and there was some other British celebrities there; it was maybe about 15 total, and Muhammad came into the room and, you know, it was like he was a god. We all kind of formed a line and he said hello to everybody. And as he was approaching me I thought, 'I'm going to meet Muhammad Ali and I don't know what to say'.

"He got to me, shook my hand, my knees were literally shaking. Every cliche is true when you meet a hero. I said, 'Muhammad, I love you', and I gave him this ratty little piece of paper. I said, 'Would you sign this for my father, he's called Barney'. He said, 'Turn around,' so I turn around and he wrote, 'To Barney'."

Liam returned to Ireland to gift his father the autograph, and was stunned by the old man's emotional reaction.

"My father was a very quiet, wee man," he said. "He was, like, 'Why use 20 words when three would do'. Very quiet. So he's sitting reading the paper and I go up to him and I take out this little piece of paper, I drop it into his lap. He gets the glasses on and he looks at it, he starts crying. He looks at me like, 'Is it true?' He doesn't say a word, and I nodded back."