“I’d heard of a man named Burns – supposed to be a poet;
But, if he was, how come I didn’t know it?
They told me his work was very, very neat,
So I replied: ‘But who did he ever beat?’”
Muhammad Ali’s went toe-to-toe with Robert Burns as he recited this bullish verse back in 1965 during a visit to Scotland, but the legendary boxer’s links to Scotland extend beyond his playful jab at the Bard.
Ali forged a bond with Glasgow photographer Harry Benson, whose intimate photographs of the man once known as Cassius Clay - including a famous set of pictures of Ali together with The Beatles - bolstered his status as a pop culture icon.
The former world champion visited Scotland again in 1993 to attend a book signing in Waterstone’s in Glasgow. Then-Rangers striker Ally McCoist was among those who arrived to meet Ali in the flesh.