The 61-year-old country singer told PEOPLE about her favorite time with the champion fighter, whom she first met when performing at a charity event in his honor called Celebrity Fight Night back in 2002
“We were sitting at a table at the Founder’s Dinner, which is [the night before the event], and he finished his meal and was eating ice cream, which he absolutely loved,” McEntire says.
Find out What Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton and more Say About Muhammad Ali’s Legacy
But she thought he might be able to polish off even more.
“I hadn’t eaten mine, so I gave him mine. And then I looked at Lonnie, his wife, like ‘Is that okay to do?’ And she said ‘Yeah, it’s okay.’ ”
But McEntire says she didn’t stop there.
“When he was through with that, he looked at me, and I looked over at [ex-husband] Narvel [Blackstock] and Narvel said ‘Okay,’ and I gave him Narvel’s ice cream too. So he was a happy camper.”
Pick up the People Collector’s Edition Muhammad Ali: Celebrating A Great American Life
McEntire continues to stay involved in Celebrity Fight Night, which she’s served as Masters of Ceremonies for since 2004.
The annual auction unites celebrities and professional athletes from all over the country to raise money for charity, with Ali’s Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute as a significant beneficiary. Throughout its 22-year history, the evening has raised $118 million, its website reads.
When news of his death broke last week, McEntire, who plans to attend the today’s funeral services, paid public respects to Ali on Instagram.
“My prayers go out to the family, friends and fans of Muhammad Ali,” she wrote. “RIP my friend.”