I’m still not convinced that turning Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home is a good idea. But it has merit.
The 90-year single-story house sits on a tiny lot on Grand Avenue, part of an older, quiet neighborhood in East Louisville. The owner, a Las Vegas investor named Jared Weiss, purchased the home last year. He is contemplating several options for the house, one of them being concerting it into an Ali Museum.
I immediately envisioned him turning the home into a gaudy Vegas-style shrine, complete with flashing lights, gift shop and the chance to have your photo taken with an Ali imitator for $20. The neighborhood doesn’t have room to handle the traffic flow, and it could be disruptive to the neighbors.
But it could work, if it’s done right. Weiss said he’d like to return the home to the way it looked during Ali’s time there. A museum, done in a tasteful manner, created as an educational facility instead of a money-making spectacle, could be accredit to the neighborhood. Sure, there’s already the Ali Center on the other side of town, but this could supplement it, offering an up-close look at Ali’s formative years; his family lived there from 1947 to 1961, after he won the Olympics. Ali’s legacy extends much further than his athletic accomplishments; he is a man who stuck to his principles, even when it cost him the prime of his career. Another museum would be another chance to teach about a great fighter, and an even better role model.