Muhammad Ali visits Stoke on Trent

Fans lined the streets of Stoke-on-Trent today for the arrival of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

The three-times world heavyweight boxing champion attended a lunch in his honour at The Britannia Stadium as part of his charity fund-raising tour of Britain. Among the crowd were 20 youngsters from Shelton Youth Centre, who have been inspired by the words of the 67-year-old fighter.

Usman Ali, aged 19, from Shelton, said: "It's absolutely massive that someone so big is coming to our city. Muhammad Ali is a role model to so many young people for all he's done in sport and outside of it."

Youth centre members recently chose an Ali quote to be the centrepiece of their revamped building. It reads: "I know where I'm going, I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."

Pat Shelley, youth and play services manager for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: "It is great that we can offer the children of this city the chance to welcome Muhammad Ali.

"When we asked youngsters at the Shelton Youth Centre to think of an inspirational quote to re-create as part of a display, they picked one of Ali's. He means as much to youngsters today as he ever did."

Promoter Carl Holness, known for representing famous boxers such as Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes, organised the event. Carl said: "This is absolutely huge for me. I was born in Stoke-on-Trent and now I'm bringing such a big name back home. During Ali's visit he was presented with a bronze sculpture by local artist Andy Edwards.

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