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    “Muhammad Ali cherished his Louisville and Grand Avenue roots. (During the procession), to say that people were passionate is probably an understatement. A lot were from Great Britain, Italy, South America, South Africa, Latino countries like Mexico and Puerto Rico. Boxing luminaries, current boxing stars. An outpouring of every dimension of society. I’ve been a boxing commissioner; I’ve been to many venues and there’s usually two or three ruckuses. This was a totally different environment. There wasn’t one argument, one scene or confrontation that broke out. I’m not from Louisville — I’ve gotten to know the city through this project — but there’s something about Louisville that promotes a bonding with people. It was on full display that week.

    “When Rahman first learned of the actual passing of his brother, he was broken up. He cried like a baby. Absolutely cried like a baby. As the week progressed, visiting the home almost 24/7, he interacted with people. People gave him reassurance and respect. Ordinary people were there offering him encouragement. I think the people helped him get through it. He helped us reproduce the home the way it was, providing early photographs, colors, what the drapes looked like. Those things were close to his heart. The house as it is now, it’s stirring to him. He walks in and he can literally hear his mother and father. He can remember when he and Cassius Jr. were youngsters, lying side by side in bed trying to go to sleep.

    “(The house was) on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that week. I think it helped impress upon Mayor Fischer and other city officials just how important this house is in the West End. And how meaningful this can be — how many wonderful things have come out of the West End and can continue to come out of the West End.”

    George Bochetto is co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum (3302 Grand Ave.)


    “The balloons would have things like Dory from Finding Nemo that invoked the innocence that we’re trying to capture in the museum, that childhood beauty.” 

    Evan Bochetto is curator and creative director of the Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum.

    Image: The crowd near Ali's boyhood home on Grand Avenue in Parkland; Adam Mescan


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    Mary Chellis Nelson's picture

    About Mary Chellis Nelson

    Mary Chellis Nelson is the managing editor of Louisville Magazine.

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