Local plumber meets Muhammad Ali


by Michelle Arnold


Posted on January 23, 2014 at 7:37 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky.-- Call it the luck of the Irish. Plumber Tony Kelly has only been in America for 14 months, but he's already met his hero, Muhammad Ali.

“I was really star struck, I didn't know what to say, he's just a legend,” Kelly said.

How did he do it? He knocked and the door was answered.

This past Friday, Kelly went to work on a home in Prospect.

“It was an everyday job. The guys were telling me that Ali lived next door and I didn't really believe them at the start,” he said.

Kelly thought there was no way he was working next door to Ali.

“As the day went on, they kept mentioning it, so I decided I'd chance my luck and go over and see if I could get a picture or an autograph or something,” he said.

So, he marched over and knocked on the door.

“I didn't think it was too bright of an idea but once I saw her coming towards the door, I knew it was too late to go back."

Ali’s wife Lonnie answered.

“She told me that he was very busy at the moment but to call back in an hour, so I called back in an hour and I got to meet him,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he shook his hand and told him he was a big fan. Lonnie Ali took pictures of Kelly and 72-year-old Ali.

“I put them on Facebook and it sort of took off from there. I didn't realize it would get so much attention. I just wanted to show my friends and family back home,” he said.

Kelly meeting Ali has gone viral. Type in ‘plumber meets Ali' on Google and you get nearly 900,000 search results. Kelly has been getting international attention.

“Back home, a lot of radio stations have been calling me and interviews for newspapers, but I don't really think much of it. I just want to get on with it,” he said.

He may want to “get on with it,” but he will never forget meeting The Greatest.

“I'd really like to thank him for letting me in his house. It's an honor. I didn't expect this attention from it."