Muhammad Ali was renowned, not only for his boxing exploits but also for his efforts as a humanitarian. The house where Ali grew up shadowboxing at times and actually boxing with his brother is almost as colorful as his personality, sporting a bright pink layer of paint. This house will soon be open to the public and allow for a view of Ali’s pre-fame years. Soon the small house will be completely renovated but will maintain the old-fashioned feel of Ali’s younger years.
George Bochetto, the former Pennsylvania state boxing commissioner, and catalyst for the project commented specifically on the integrity of the house’s rustic ambiance. Upon entering the front door, visitors will take a step back in time. “You walk into this house … you’re going back to 1955, and you’re going to be in the middle of the Clay family home,” Bochetto said.
Las Vegas real estate investor Jared Weiss co-owns the house with one of Ali’s oldest fans. According to the current plans, the grand opening happened on May 1st. This included plans to buy and modify the adjacent house as a visitors’ center and gift shop. This effort required nine months of reconstruction and $300,000 but will be well worth it upon completion.
Past sentiments and dreams still linger in the walls. From his youngest years to his departure for the 1960 Olympics, Ali had some of his most cherished and valuable experiences in this small two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. After Ali claimed the gold in 1960 and subsequently signed a professional contract, he and his family moved and a new family moved in. Renovators used old photos from the interior and exterior of the house in an attempt to recreate Ali’s first house. From the design to the furnishings and artwork, Bochetto and the developers sought to make the house an exact match with how it was in 1960.
“We’re trying to demonstrate where it all began,” Bochetto said of the home, “How did Ali become Ali?”
The developers even brought Rahman Ali, Muhammed Ali’s younger brother and another former fighter, on board for advice. Rahman was moved upon seeing the redesigned home. “It’s just like my boyhood,” he said. “The only things missing are Dad and Mom. Otherwise, it’s perfect.”
From the time they were old enough to walk Muhammed and Rahman shadowboxed together and began building a skill set that would serve both of them between the ropes in the years to come. Ali frequently played pranks on Rahman, including creating “ghosts” by tying a string to the boys’ curtain and pulling it when Rahman wasn’t looking.
As it stands, Bochetto plans to open the house Thursdays through Sundays with an $8 entrance fee. Bochetto prepared three videos detailing Ali’s childhood from different perspectives. The house, however, will not focus on Ali’s boxing career as the intent is to show the three time world champion’s origins prior to his fame. Ali’s accolades, both in boxing and in social justice settings are displayed at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville.
Currently Ali is 74 and fighting his hardest battle. After dominating the boxing world for so many years, Ali is currently combating Parkinson’s disease. While he and his wife have not seen the house yet, Bochetto stated they have an open invitation whenever they wish to reminisce. Bochetto spoke to the symbol that is Ali’s home, saying, “You don’t have to be from any particular neighborhood, any particular kind of house. You can be from anywhere and you can become great … And this is a living monument to just that.”