Raised in the Northern Ireland town of Ballymena, actor Liam Neeson credits a lot of his success to the discipline and work ethic he acquired as an amateur boxer in the 1960s.
Crowned juvenile champion of Northern Ireland three times. He says of boxing: There is no discipline greater and when you are in the ring you are in there with all your strengths and all your weaknesses. You can’t act being a boxer in the ring, you really can’t.
Neeson is still a huge fan of boxing today, he talks of a meeting with Mr Ali back in 1980: He had maybe two fights left. My knees were literally shaking. I was totally starstruck. I mumbled something to him and I said, "Would you ever sign this to my dad?" And I had a small piece of paper in my hand. He said, "Sure, what's your dad's name?" I told him, "Barney." And he said to turn around and he wrote on my back, "To Barney, Muhammad Ali." I remember going home to Ireland and seeing my dad. I didn't say anything, I just said, "Here, Dad." And he reached for his glasses and looked and he just started crying. Tears were rolling down his face. I started crying. It was great. There will be nobody like him. He was my idol.